December 6, 2004 1:24 PM PST

Firefox users ignore online ads, report says

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Internet Explorer users are at least four times as likely to click on Web ads than Firefox users, a German advertising technology company said last week.

The company, Adtech, found that during October and November, only 0.11 percent of Firefox users ever clicked on an ad, compared with around 0.5 percent of IE users. The percentage of IE users clicking on ads varied depending on which version of the browser was being used, the company said: from 0.44 percent of version 6.x users to 0.53 percent of version 5.5 users. The survey was based on 1,000 Web sites in Europe that use Adtech's ad server.

Dirk Freytag, the chief operations officer of Adtech, said in a statement that the reason for this trend is probably the different surfing habits of Firefox and IE users, plus the inclusion of an integrated pop-up ad blocker in Firefox. Among IE users, only those who have version 6 and who have installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 have an integrated pop-up blocker, although IE users can also choose to install a third-party pop-up blocker.

David Hallowell, a Mozilla contributor, said this trend may have emerged because nontechnical Web surfers, who tend to be IE users, are more likely to click on pop-up ads by mistake, because they think the ad is a system dialog box.

"People click on (pop-up) ads because they think the system's trying to tell them something," Hallowell said. "The average Firefox user is more aware that they're ads, not system dialogs."

Hallowell added that Firefox users may be more likely to click on targeted ads, rather than other types. "Most people I know are more happy with Google's targeted ads--they don't like big banner ads that are totally unrelated to what they're looking for," Hallowell said.

Adtech's findings could have significant implications for the online-advertising market. It may be bad news for sites that rely on online advertising, because as the number of Firefox users grows, those sites may get lower click-through rates. Alternatively, if Hallowell's theory is correct, then click-throughs from Firefox users could actually be more valuable--if a Firefox user is considered more likely to have intentionally clicked on an advertisement.

In some cases, Web surfers would be well-advised to stay clear of banner ads. Last month, ZDNet UK reported that hackers have attacked ad servers and have modified the banner ads so that they redirect users to Web sites that download malicious code.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

35 comments

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Ad blocking extensions help
I use Adblock for Firefox:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="https://update.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?application=firefox&#38;id=10&#38;vid=664" target="_newWindow">https://update.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?application=firefox&#38;id=10&#38;vid=664</a>


Of course, a good host file helps also.
Posted by ledzep75 (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"I'll alert the media..."
No kidding. Firefox users KNOW that Internet Explorer is full of holes. Firefox users KNOW that Microsoft, with its arrogance, its dominance, and its irresponsibility, has put out a product that has enabled all manner of inconvenience and irritation to its users.

Why in the world would anyone CHOOSE to use a product that is released with innumerable security holes? Why in the world would anyone in the world CHOOSE to suffer through popups that redirect us to innumberable sites we don't want to see? Why in the world would anyone CHOOSE to use a product that is by inspection so deficient that's it's almost impossible to understand why any self-respecting company would want to put its name on it?

It's a piece of garbage. c|net's reviewers know it. I know it. Millions of people around the world know it. We use it because we're accustomed to it, and because Microsoft's lousy security made it so easy for us to get at a time when we were all developing habits. Should we blame MS? No. But should we be the least bit surprised when users develop enough sophistication to recognize a problem when they see it and choose to use something else.

Not in the least.
Posted by EENetminder (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
innumberable sites
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/mercury_monterey_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/mercury_monterey_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
Malicious Banner Ads Code.
It is worth noting that the article's mention of the malicious code embedded on the ads graphics did not specify what browser this affects. This affects Internet Explorer via the jpeg vulnerability.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Hmmm.....
No suprise that IE5.5 has the highest rate... this is just all the ignorant masses who use whatever came with the system and never upgrade their browser. They probably also reply to Viagra spam.
Posted by (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually...
If anyone has IE 5.5 installed they have upgraded as it never shipped with any OS that I'm aware of. (It may have shipped with Windows ME, I don't recall right offhand.)
I like IE 5.5 SP2 and for a variety of reason never see any ads. What the author state's regarding versions of IE prior to 6.0 simply isn't true, that earlier version of IE could not stop popups. In any version of IE choose custom for the Internet Security Zone. Scroll down near the bottom and disable "Active Scripting" and "Allow paste operation via script", you'll never see another popup again, unless you have some adware/spyware installed. I add sites such as the place I order my checks from, which uses a popup if one wishes to view altered data on the check, to IE's Trusted Security Zone.
Posted by Muddleme (99 comments )
Link Flag
I ignore all ads...
... no matter what browser I'm using. As noted,pop-up blockers
help significantly. But no ad is worth any attention. All are
garbage in one way or another, and many are just plain frauds.
So, all ads get ignored, all the time. It gets real easy, real fast.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is SO biased.....
CNET is trying to say domething good about Firefox here. Firefox has NOTHING to do with ANY of this.

It is interesting to note that this survey was done in the UK. Users in the UK are not as likely to modify anything like changing there browser as compared to US users.

It is also interesting that this survey is even possible. The idea that the firefox browser sends out information regarding the pc it's installed on should be a big red flag.

There should be ONLY one focus here....
The people that use the net NEED to be educated about what they own, what the internet really is, and how all this stuff actually works. The ONLY reason that these numbers are what they are is because a user so inclined to use ANY browser other than what was already on the pc to start with would be more likely to understand something about computers (NOT just the various problems that DO plague IE).

This IS NOT a testamonial in praise of Firefox NOR is it a bashing for IE. What this story ACTUALLY is, is an example that there are people that are learning and educating themselves. It is also a warning that advertising and net tracking companies like this can still watch your movements....even if you use Firefox (to me, this in itself is a security risk).

As far as I am conserned....it is the online advertising industry that is creating so much of the problem. They employ their own hackers and back them with plenty of money. Online advertising is a greater threat to ALL of us than ANY rogue hacker out there (black hat or white).
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Simple Javascript code
Sniffing a browser type is a common "javascript"
technique:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://webreference.com/tools/browser/javascript.html" target="_newWindow">http://webreference.com/tools/browser/javascript.html</a>

It is simply a code test to determine your client's
capability since many sites use non-standard IE
specific code, a test would be prudent to determine
compatibility. One can easily mask your browser's
identity, but, you cannot mask the fact your
browser does not support a particular javascript
object. Firefox can mask it's ID but it cannot
mask the fact it does not support a platform
specific "activex" code segment. One can easily
see how you can glean information on the browser
type from it's ability to execute a section of
code (standard or not). No conspiracies here.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
Errr... why
Why are UK users not as likely to change their browser as US types? Just curious.

Even so, I use Firefox (I am from Australia) and I think I have clicked on 1 ad in my life deliberatly. I find them annoying, but since they do make sites like CNET free I don't have any huge problem with them.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Mozilla users can set preferences so .....
I keep my preferences set to only except pics and some cookies from the site I am on. This means I accept no third party cookies or pics(banner ads) from other sites. This maybe why there is a much smaller amount of click throughs from Mozilla or FoxFire.

I do not want to go to a site that wants use my computer for what ever reason. With internet security, as it is today, the less others use my computer (through the internet) the better.

Even if it is a well know company, was the person who wrote the code out-sourced or still with the company, and will the company take any responsibility, I don't think so.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
simple survey - simple findings
So what ARE the new findings of this survey???

-What everybody already knew is that more techy people use firefox.
-And simple users also tend to have IE5.5 while compagnies tend to have more recent IE6.x.

Clicking only depends on the USER that clicks. So if firefox is spread also to the simple user we WILL find that firefox users are going to click more often on the ads...

The only thing we CAN conclude is that techy people click less on ads than the simple user. And ... that is something we already knew!
Posted by Tobias Nijmeijer (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firefox deletes some wanted content
Try picking up the radar from wftv.com - Firefox must think the radar image is an ad. I like using Firefox for security reasons and the screen in cleaner. Some sites are fine, like Gmail, but the "sign-off" link is missing on Hotmail. I will still support this effort to de-throne IE. Also Netscape is very useful. I have to use IE for my company email, but also use AdAware every day and SpyBt S&#38;D often.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE
I don't know what the deal is. The radar worked just fine for me (Firefox 1.5).
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
use AdAware
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/nakamichi/nakamichi_cr1_cr2_cr7a_cr5a_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/nakamichi/nakamichi_cr1_cr2_cr7a_cr5a_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
re:ads
i dont have a problem with some ads if they were to agree on a size. i hate trying to read an article and there is an ad in the middle of it some ads even cover up some of the words in an article and on some sites you are given a nice full screen flash ad. all in all ads and comercials suck there wasn't a time when i saw a comercial or add and decided wow thats cool with tv for example every 10 min there is a comercial here is an idea give the consumer a clock that counts down how many minutes till he can comeback and watch his show not to mention that stupid vonage comercial i either want to cap my self when i see it or shoot my tv
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
This is a problem we have suffered
Every day I check my stats for our company website www.sexyparadise.info and one of the things we look at is the success we get from each browser. Firefox users although plentiful do not click our ads. We don't know why this is but we have people working on the problem constantly looking for solutions.
Posted by globalsven (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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