AOL Adds Pop-Up Ad Blocking

"Stop the pop-ups" has become the mantra of many a Web surfer. AOL has responded, earning a wry rejoinder from EarthLink.

After years of customer requests for relief from annoying Web pop-up advertisements, America Online has announced AOL Web Pop-Up Controls, which can block pop-up and pop-under ads. Users access the controls via a prominent icon at the bottom of the AOL version 8.0 browser.

"AOLs new Pop-Up Controls will allow our members to explore the Web without being trapped in pop-up purgatory," said David Gang, AOLs executive vice president for product marketing, in announcing the controls.

A single click turns the controls on or off, and an alert sounds when an ad is blocked. Users can check to see which sites have attempted to serve pop-up ads and can choose to receive pop-ups from particular sites by adding the sites to personal allow lists.

In a statement titled "Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery," Rob Kaiser, EarthLink vice president of narrowband marketing, claimed that EarthLink "was the first major Internet service provider to include, at no additional charge, a feature that lets subscribers block annoying pop-up advertisements."

EarthLinks customizable Pop-Up Blocker prevents pop-up advertisements from appearing on top of or behind a customers browser window. The tool lets users specify certain Web addresses or URLs from which theyll permit pop-up ads, and keyboard commands can override the utility. Users can view thumbnail images of advertisements if they want.

Adding insult to injury, Kaiser continued: "Unlike AOLs parent company, AOL Time Warner, which according to NetRatings/AdRelevance was the largest server of pop-up advertisements online in December 2002, EarthLink does not serve intrusive pop-up ads to its customer base."