sorry about the ad hiccups!

I know a lot of you have experienced problems with the ads here over the last week or two — video ads that automatically play sound without your permission and mobile ads that redirect you to the App Store for no apparent reason. This happened when I transferred to a new ad network and encountered some unexpected kinks. They and I are working on these issues and hope to have them resolved soon, and I want to ask for your patience meanwhile (and apologize for the hassle).

A few more notes about ads:

* When you’re visiting the site on your phone or other mobile device, you shouldn’t have any more issues. I’ve turned off mobile ads altogether until the problem is solved. If you’re still seeing them on a phone, try clearing your cache and that should take care of it.

* Video ads: Auto-play video ads are allowed on the site, but auto-play sound is not. So you might still see auto-play video after the problems are resolved, but they shouldn’t be producing any noise.

* Meanwhile, many browsers allow you to change your settings so that no ad will auto-play on any site. If you’d like to change those settings,  this article explains how to do it.

Thanks for bearing with me during this. I’m working on it!

{ 64 comments… read them below }

  1. Meg Murry

    I am on a mobile phone (Android using Chrome) and still see ads. I’ve never had the redirect problem on my phone though – the only issue I’ve had on my phone is that the page seems to load slower with the new ads than it used to, and sometimes it re-sizes once the ad shows up, causing me to accidentally click the wrong spot/link.

    I was getting a lot of ads with sound on my computer at work, and unfortunately I can’t take the time to hunt it down because my first response to an ad with sound is to immediately close the window to shut it up. I’ve got my computer muted now, but I occasionally have to watch video training, so I can’t just leave the sounds off by default.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You shouldn’t be seeing any ads at all on mobile. Try clearing your cache/quitting and restarting the browser and see if that solves it? If it doesn’t, would you email me so I can figure out what on earth is going on?

      1. Meg Murry

        I had to turn off “reduce data usage” and clear the cache and cookies, but now I don’t see the ads. Using an incognito tab also cleared the ads immediately in that tab. But I never had the redirect issue on my phone, so not a huge deal for me. Turning back on “reduce data usage” made the ads come back.

        But I have to say, the new ads detract from the professional image of the site, in my opinion. I was getting ads about spam my crap, like “Amazing facts you probably want to know about” and “track down anyone’s email address and mailing address for only $1!!!”
        I still love the site and will continue to frequent it, but it doesn’t give as good of a first impression to me and I’m not sure this ad network is good for your credibility long term.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That’s definitely something I’ve thought about (because I’ve noticed that too), but I looked at the ads on a lot of other sites I respect and noticed similar ads there. I think it might feel more jarring here because it’s a change, but I think they’ll fade more into the background as people get used to them.

          Ultimately I’m balancing my desire for only classy ads with my desire to financially support the site long-term. There are some things I’m not willing to accept (auto-play sound, auto redirects, and other obnoxious ad behavior), but I’ll put up with the occasional ad for “shocking French secrets!” or “can you believe these people got plastic surgery?” if it means the site is self-supporting. And, perhaps more to the point, that I am self-supporting :)

            1. kozinskey

              I agree that there are a lot of merch opportunities from the things that have come up on this site. I’d buy hannukah balls for sure!

        2. Meg Murry

          For example, the ad I just got was “Is he cheating on you? Enter his email address. See social profiles and hard to access information.” plastered in huge letters right above the Ask A Manger banner and scarf girl (and larger than the banner). I understand this is how you make money, but it seems to go against all the advice you give about presenting a professional front.

          I bought one of your books and found it really helpful. If there was some kind of sign-in based membership we could purchase/subscribe to to give access to an ad-free version of the site, I would be happy to give you money in exchange to get rid of these ads.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Eeeww, that IS horrible. I’m hopeful that after the ads are rebuilt to not go through Google’s ad server anymore, those might go away. I’ll keep an eye on it.

          2. ThursdaysGeek

            My company must have some sort of ad-blocking installed. I see ads for resume writing and others that relate to the site, plus an ad for Salvation Army and … what is ‘Mothernist’? But the ads I see are not obnoxious at all. :)

        3. eemmzz

          Reduce data usage proxies all your requests to google and I believe they cache the sites in accordance with that site’s caching policy. That might by why they still show when turning it back on.

    2. Marcus

      It is possible that your settings in Chrome are causing your phone browser to request the desktop version of websites.

  2. chrl268

    I don’t know if this is too blunt, but do you get more money for autoplay ads? Cause I find them very very very frustrating sound or no sound, and make me want to boycott the thing they are advertising.

    I am now curious to know how well they work compared to non video ads, like do they get more click throughs? Do people click through more but don’t actually purchase etc?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      No! I still wouldn’t want them here even if they did pay more, but as far as I know, they don’t. I agree that they’re really annoying and would love to know how well they actually work.

      1. chrl268

        I just assumed you Alison could opt out of auto play ads but then I don’t know anything about advertising – we need a advertising specialist to comment re the effectiveness of them :-)

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          You would think it would be an easy thing to just opt out, but it turns out that it’s not. My ad network does prohibit the auto-sound ones, but apparently because some of their ads run through Google’s ad server, there are ways for malicious/rogue advertisers to hijack things and push in their own rule-breaking ads. What we’re going to try next is taking all the ads through a different server that doesn’t use Google’s ad exchange at all. (And to their credit, they’ve been really hard at work trying to fix this.)

          1. Eva

            If you don’t mind sharing, what’s the name of the new ad network? I ask because we get contacted once a month or so by a new ad network claiming that they can improve our site’s ad earnings (currently we only use Google AdSense), and I haven’t yet found one that I was comfortable partnering with, but since there is one out there that is good enough for you, I am keen to check it out.

          2. BRR

            Would it be possible to do a wikipedia style fundraiser (only saying wikiepedia because that’s what it reminds me of) to fund the site? I’m sure some would love to contribute if it would make it easier for you than dealing with ad companies and especially after all you have given us. It would be 100% voluntary of course like any good office fundraiser :).

              1. BRR

                I’ve always said I feel like I owe you a commission (I bought your book so that’s a start and am going to stock up on cafepress stuff when I get back from out of town).

  3. Smilingswan

    Thanks for this post Alison! As I said in my earlier e-mail I am running Firefox, and the article you linked to here solved my problem. I downloaded the Flashblock add-on, since the first suggestion listed didn’t work, and it seems to be doing the job. Also, thanks for your quick response to my e-mail. :)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I highly recommend FlashBlock and NoScripts/NotScripts (depending on which browser it’s for) to EVERYONE for security reasons. The fact that these rogue ads are finding their way on to trusted sites even through supposedly legitimate ad networks is exactly why it’s a security issue. Malware can be more easily spread that way, getting itself distributed by piggybacking on trusted sites. However, as an example, the ad from TrojanViruses.ru that runs on AskAManager.org will still need to execute a script from TrojanViruses.ru, so if you allow scripts from AAM but block them from all unknown/untrusted sites, you’re much safer. Otherwise your computer could be infected just from visiting a trusted website.

      1. NoPantsFridays

        Yup. I can’t recommend NoScript enough. (I use Firefox.) I even have it installed here on my work computer. At home, I also use RequestPolicy, Flashblock, and a few others I can’t remember. I also use AdBlockPlus, but I have it disabled on this website and a number of others where I want the ads to show, because I want Alison (and the people who own the other sites) to get ad revenue.

      2. Talvi

        Seconding NoScript (I’m on Firefox). I started using it a just few weeks ago, and I am already wondering how I ever felt safe browsing without it! There is, of course, always a bit of a “which specific thing(s) do I need to allow in order for this site/video to function properly?” game when visiting a new site, but it is worth it for the extra security/peace of mind.

  4. Variation

    When I browse the site on mobile, I’ve been receiving requests to share my location. As far as I can tell, it’s coming from the ads, as I haven’t been prompted since they were disabled. Is this something that can be removed as well? It feels very invasive.

  5. HarryV

    With ads, you really need to put the right disclaimers ESPECIALLY if you have visitors from Europe or you can get in BIG trouble. Contact me and I can give you some tips for free. I’ve learned a lot from you and love to give back!

  6. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady

    I had no idea that I could turn off autoplay. I cannot imagine that those autoplay videos are helpful at all. I mean, who likes those?

    You’ve just made my day by teaching me how to turn off the dumb auto audio stuff everywhere. Your ad problems are my blessings.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        When I was a child (several decades ago) my father taught us well that if something was advertised on tv and we asked for it, then it was something that he would guarantee he would never buy. I’ve learned well to disregard most ads, and even the ones I look at rarely influence me to buy unless I was going to get that item anyway.

  7. Beyonce Pad Thai

    I don’t know how the ad networks get away with these ads, they’re so annoying. I stopped playing several word games on my phone because they kept redirecting me to Google play do download some dumb thing.

  8. Amber

    Sorry, Alison, but these new ads are so obnoxious and unpleasant I’ve turned AdBlocker back on for your site. I’d prefer not to, but I can’t deal with ads for spying on cheating spouses and plastic surgery. The old ads were fine, but since this change I got annoyed every time I visited.

    I’d happily send you a couple of bucks to make up for not seeing your ads, if you had a way to do so.

  9. Karowen

    I just want to say that your handling of this has really impressed me – To the point where I discussed it with another AAM reader at trivia last night. Thanks for being super diligent (and for the site in general!)

      1. LBK

        FWIW, this has also been happening to me on a bunch of other sites I visit regularly – there definitely seems to be a batch of nasty ads hijacker that leaked into one of the popular networks. Some sites are completely unusable for me on my phone at the moment because no matter how many times I open/refresh the page, I always get redirected to the app store. Fortunately it hasn’t been that bad on yours.

  10. Jake

    I view this site exclusively on my Android phone with Chrome, and I haven’t had any redirecting. I have had my location requested though.

    At least on mobile, the ads have been so unintrusive that I usually don’t even notice them.

    However, I often have to click submit 2 or 3 times for it to go through on a comment.

    1. Moo

      That’s been the case for me both hard wired and mobile for at least the last few months (that I have really been an active commenter).

  11. Gem

    Do you still want reports for full screen ads? I just got hit with three in sucession (then FF crashed) but don’t want to bombard you if you’ve got all the reports you need.

    Let me know! :)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you’re willing, give it a week and see if the new solution they’re working on fixes it. If you’re still seeing problematic ads by this time next week, I definitely want to know.

      1. Gem

        Not a problem, just wanted to see if I could help the good fight in anyway. I really hope it gets sorted soon, you must be getting really frustrated!

  12. De Minimis

    Mine are still more or less “classy” ads [current one is for Lean Six Sigma certification] but maybe that’s because I usually just go to AAM at work, so it’s more about classy browsing habits, at least at work! The second ad right now is for Google ad services, and the others are blank [might be blocked here or something.]

    1. Vanishing Girl

      mine too! they are always for designer knitwear and business clothing, but then again, I browse at work too.

    2. kozinskey

      I’m seeing Birchbox ads and Amazon ads for things I’ve browsed recently. I’d say the ad network is using my browser history, which might skeeve some people out but doesn’t bother me. (Might be a different story if I kept more risqué items in my Amazon cart, though.)

      1. De Minimis

        Mine are almost always blank, the Six Sigma one shows up, but that’s about it. The filtering software here does some funny things.

        Other pages I will often see a lot of Amazon stuff and ads for Shoebuy….stuff I’ve looked at online here sometimes. [It’s allowed by our policy, within reason…]

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Interestingly, I get totally different ads on my work computer than on my non-work computer too. I tend to get clothing ads for places I’ve shopped on the non-work computer, and loads and loads of job search ads on the work one. It definitely seems to be cookie-based in some way. Also, if you clear your cookies entirely and then come back to the site, that seems to be when you’ll get the worst ads (in terms of lack of class); it’s like it doesn’t know what else to show you yet.

        1. Kyrielle

          Sure, they probably promise the advertiser X number of views, and they might as well serve them to people when they have no idea what they are interested in…

  13. Dolly

    I think it is wonderful that you actually care, Alison. Too many sites I frequent seem to only be focused on how much their adnetwork can bring in and not the inconvenience it can have for the viewers. There is nothing – and I mean n.o.t.h.i.n.g. I hate more than auto-sound ads. It is the rudest thing a product can put out there, in my ever so humble opinion. Thank you for not allowing these.

    1. Labratnomore

      I agree with Dolly on both those points. I appreciate the fact that you care about your ads, so my companies just care about how much money they can bring in from them. I also hate auto-sound ads (and auto-play ads in general) and there is no chance I will give them the satisfaction of clicking on them, even if it was a product I was interested in.

  14. ....

    Currently one of them really annoying ‘ads’ for a spam SMS service at £4.50 per WEEK showing, you know the ones that display like a windows error box and then pop up claiming you’ve won some competition or other just to get your number.

  15. Secretary

    Stumbled across this posting, I love this website I have just gotten into it!
    I noticed this was put up a year ago, and ads are not very obtrusive at this point. I wanted to mention that when I’m on mobile I still find that ads will pop up and redirect me AWAY from AAM, and I can’t go back and I have to reopen it. Might be something to look into?

Comments are closed.