New Banner Filter–A Threat to the Web Ad Industry?

How much of a threat is this? CYBERsitter, an Internet
filter from Solid Oak Software Inc., is offering
customers the ability to block Web site advertising with a new plug-in filter.

“One of the most frequent requests from CYBERsitter users over the past two
and a half years has been to add the capability to block Web site banner
advertising,” said Marc Kanter of Santa Barbara, CA-based Solid Oak.

CYBERsitter 97 uses filtering technology to eliminate banner ads from many Web
sites and search engines. Not only is this appropriate for removing ads solely
intended for adults, the company said, but also to eliminate ads that slow the
process of downloading Web pages, subsequently minimizing bandwidth and
possibly annoying consumers.

Typical consumers that use a modem will see a markedly reduced time needed to
download Web pages, especially those with multiple banners, the company said.
CYBERsitter 97 will also remove advertising from free e-mail services.

This is sure to create controversy in the Web ad industry. Will people use it?
No doubt some will. Brian Monahan, a media buyer at Left Field in San
Francisco, told us last week that he feels that the more experienced a Web
user is, the less likely they are to click on a banner ad. Many old hands view
the proliferation of ad banners as an intrusion on the Web surfing experience.

One of the first in the industry to respond was Adam Boettiger, vice president
of marketing and advertising at eyescream interactive Inc. in Oregon.

“I don’t think it will have a significant effect. After all, if you don’t want
to see banners you certainly don’t have to pay $40. There’s this cool new
feature called ‘Graphics Off’–it’s on most browsers,” said the
moderator of the Internet Advertising Discussion List. (To join this list,
e-mail to: [email protected] and put
JOIN in the body of your message.)

“Connectivity speeds are increasing rapidly, and within the next year or two I
don’t think connectivity will be a problem; therefore, it will be
irrelevant to
make a statement that online advertising slows pageloading.”

“The reason the Internet industry is growing so quickly is largely due to
the online ad industry and revenues generated by it. People don’t realize that
the old adage that information and content are ‘free’ on the Internet is no
longer true,” he said.

“SOMEONE pays for it, whether it is you paying a monthly subscription fee to
access the information or whether the site itself does not charge a fee
because their costs are compensated by sponsors, product sales,
subscriptions and paid advertising–or a combination of all of the above.”

CYBERsitter 97 was originally designed as a pornography filter. “Now with Web
ad filtering and the ability for parents especially to block transmission of
personal information, CYBERsitter stands out as an all-empowering tool
enabling them to have more control of their Internet activity,” the company

Free trial versions of CYBERsitter are available for download from Solid Oak
Software’s Web site. The product itself sells for $39.95, and offers free
filter file updates. A network version, site licenses, and educational
discounts are available.

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