Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

December 04, 2007

Would You Buy An Ad Campaign From This Man?

Sometimes I really wonder about the sanity of people in the online ad business. Take, for example, this skyscraper ad for an outfit called AdGooroo. The concept isn't bad -- I actually like the fact that this guy's massive hand is reaching out to me in a friendly handshake. But the execution is ridiculous: first of all, the poor guy's suit is at least 3 sizes too big (as revealed by the massive fold of fabric by his right shoulder). His collar isn't tucked under his lapel, which probably means his shirt is too big as well. Lastly, his necktie looks like it had been balled up in a closet for months.

Lastly, for Pete's sake, if you want to be my New Campaign Manager, will you comb your hair?

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July 06, 2007

The Fabulous (and Mildly Licentious) X10 Pop-Up Ad Museum

Remember Pop-Up (and Pop-Under) ads? Those infuriating little mothers that would distract you from whatever it was that you were doing and (occasionally) install some truly evil malware on your hard drive?

Well, Pop-Up ads are not exactly extinct, in fact you'd be amazed at the number of mainstream sites which still employ them. Why do they do this? Because Pop-Up's work: people click on them, and this is why marketers continue to use them. I frankly think that any marketer still using a Pop-Up should be popped upside the chin, but Pop-Ups bring in the bucks, so don't expect them to disappear anytime soon.

Pop-Up ads have definitely declined in the past four or five years, thanks to the triumph of text ads and Pop-Up blockers. Future generations of Web users will have little knowledge of the Pop-Up Hell we all had to endure between roughly 2001 and 2004. Fortunately, a fellow by the name of Kenny Law has archived a bunch of the mildly licentious Pop-Ups served up by the X10 home surveillance company on his small corner of the servers.

Enjoy this peculiarly twisted shrine to Orwellian voyeurism and joyously intrusive browser-hijacking (and thank your lucky stars that these ads, now trapped in a museum, are forced to stand still)!

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May 12, 2007

Ghost Ads of Yahoo

I was rummaging around inside Yahoo a while back and found a bunch of very early GIF89A ad banners. GIF89A, of course, was the magic technology that was discovered in 1996-97. Within a very short time, animation-fever gripped the cube farms of Web designers across the land. Sadly, few examples survive today, which makes the Yahoo Find significant. These ads are not cached copies - they actually still exist on Yahoo, although it is improbable that they're linked from any active areas of the site. These ads, therefore, may be among the oldest commercial digital objects still doing what they were designed to do - sell products (even if these products were "overtaken by events").

Independent: On the Edge: Are You? (Web Innovation 1997 trade show)

This nearly ten-year old ad for a long-forgotten technology conference dates itself authoritatively in early 1997. It is significant in terms of perserving one of the major intellectual conceits of the dot-com era ("Independent: On the Edge"). Note that the copy provides not a "Front Door to the Future", but a "Frontdoor" - a textual consolidation possibly forced by the spatial limitations of the 468 x 60 canvas. Like virtually all of these early ads, it has no way of turning itself off.

IBM "Revolving Door" (World Avenue)

"When you're done browsing here - Shop at IBM's World Avenue", this looping ad announces, but not the differences. Neither IBM's holy "eight bar" logo nor any of the Times Roman text is animated - doing this would have clearly outraged whichever Interactive Design Subcommittee oversaw this ad's production. IBM's "World Avenue" was closed in late 1997. According to the Wall Street Journal, "when it came to shoppers, World Avenue was more like a deserted street, producing minimal revenue not only for mall tenants like department-store chain Gottschalks Inc., but also for IBM, which had planned to make money by taking a cut of every World Avenue transaction." IBM's choice of the endlessly looping "revolving door" may seem an ironic one, given how many former managers of this company have now passed through it.

Get Quenched: Sunny Delight

The early adopters of GIF89A animation might have been technology firms, but it wasn't very long before big consumer brands sought to upgrade their static banner ads with animation, often in connection with the promotion of an online contest or game."Get Quenched" is obviously an early effort whose unimaginative use of the animation medium seems tangibly primitive today. Sunny Delight - the drink, still exists, although it is inconceivable that the "Get Quenched" game is still in existence on the Web.

If you find an old banner ad out on the Web somewhere, please tell me about it. Early examples of these loopy, looping animations are very hard to find these days in the ever-deleting, snake-eats-tale bitstream.

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April 10, 2007

The Banner Ad Museum is Dead

The Banner Ad Museum is Dead I wrote about The Banner Ad Museum back in 2004, praising it for deploying a large, well-organized gallery of old banner advertisements which illustrate the early years of Web-based Hucksterism (1994-2000). Sadly, the Museum is now closed: the domain leads nowhere.

Fortunately, you can still experience the joys of yesterday's defunct banner ads at the Internet Archive, which has done a first-rate job of preserving even the rich-media enabled banner ads which the Banner Ad Museum had on display. If you're involved in Internet-based advertising, or care about Web History, it's a must-see exhibit!

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