Google to Users: 'Pop-Up Ads Annoy Us Too'

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Popular search engine Google.com wants its users to know that it, too, is annoyed by pop-up advertisements and that it does not allow them on its Web site.


The company said its stance is in response to more than 100 complaints from users about pop-up ads unwittingly deploying when they search on Google.com. Google laid out its position in a note on its Web site, "Are Pop-Up Ads Allowed on Google?" which can be accessed through a link on its home page.


"Google does not allow pop-up ads of any kind on our site," the note reads. "We find them annoying."


The note goes on to offer a number of explanations why pop-ups might be deploying during users' search sessions: They may have typed the Web address incorrectly and be accessing a "squatter" site; they may have visited a site that employs pop-under ads that launch behind a browser; or they may have recently installed a free music-sharing program that added software to their computers that launches ads.


"This is not at all a campaign against pop-ups," said Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google.com. "It's a response to third-party companies showing ads on Google without permission. A very simple proactive tactic Google can take to educate our users."


Cutts pointed out that Google.com has never employed pop-up ads and does not plan to do so anytime soon. The search engine does, however, employ text-based ads, which are tied to keyword searches. So, for example, if someone does a search for "automobile," short, text ads for automotive companies will be displayed in the right-hand column of the results page. Google calls these ads AdWords.


"It's been a persistent complaint," Cutts said. "So we decided to give users a wide variety of options up to and including contacting the FTC [Federal Trade Commission]."


Google explains in its note that users can download software to eliminate hidden pop-up ad programs. It also provides the phone number, URL and physical address of the FTC's complaint department.


"We get literally thousands of e-mails each week," Cutts said. "We feel that if one user writes in, about 100 others experiencing the same problem don't. We're trying to reach that silent user base."


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