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.

November 21, 2007

BrightSpot.TV Sleeps With the Fishes

BrightSpot.TV Sleeps With the Fishes
When the history of our era is written by future historians, the story of will be cited as an extreme example of the grasping-at-straws desperation into which the advertising industry had fallen by the first decade of the 21st Century.'s idea was simple: to pay people to watch ads, a compensation scheme that had never been necessary before in the good old analog media days, when advertising was hard to avoid. Aimed at low-income teenage males, the thinking seems to have been that such people would flock to, gorge on ads, and be happy with the crumbs thrown at them in exchange.

Nobody seems to have asked the obvious question: why would advertisers be interested in foisting their brands to such low-income losers? Unfortunately, with so few advertisers willing to come forward with big bucks,'s viewers never earned enough money to justify the annoyance of watching the ads, so the site's already shaky value proposition quickly became openly risible.

Interestingly, wasn't hatched in a typical Silicon Valley marijuana den, but in the heartland of jocks. Its backers included Jerry Coangelo, of the Pheonix Suns, Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, and other midwesterners, who ponied up millions to fund this clunker.

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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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April 13, 2007

The Steep Decline and Imminent Fall of Bud.TV

Bud.TV is rapidly dissolvingAn article by Jeremy Mullman at Advertising Age traces the high hopes and crushed dreams of Anheuser-Busch's Web gurus, who hoped to create a Myspace-killing traffic hub in Bud.TV. According to ComScore Media Metrix, "Bud.TV drew 152,000 unique visitors last month, 40% fewer than February's 253,000 visitors."

Anheuser-Busch laid out between $30 and $40 million to attract this decaying stream of people. What went wrong? Well, just about everything. I tried to log on to this site, and was unable to (the registration software thought I was under 18, even though I'm over 50). The site is practically invisible to search engines (thanks to the reggie software). Copies of content uploaded to more accessible sites such as Youtube are wildly unpopular.

I can only wonder how much buzz that $30-$40 million would have gotten if A-B had simply empowered the millions of Bud drinkers to do something interesting with the brand, a la Pepsi and Mentos. Instead, we got a dark, impenetrable, walled-in, less-than compelling site with perhaps the scariest TOS (terms of service) yet seen in cyberspace. No wonder nobody wants to go there!

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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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