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Letters to the World

23-Dec-2003

Taking AIM at bad ads

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 6:07 pm

To whom it may concern at America Online:

Apparently, you have recently begun testing video ads, with accompanying audio, in the AIM client. It would have been nice to have a place where we users could offer feedback on these ads, however, because I have quite a bit of it… and most of it isn’t positive.

First, let me mention that I’m not against advertising in general in AIM, unlike some people seem to be. Indeed, I’ve seen a few clever or interesting banner ads that actually interested me and that caused me to follow through to the advertiser’s site. The ads needn’t even be simple and static; I’ve seen a few interactive ads that were incredibly clever.

However, forcing full-motion video with accompanying audio upon a user, especially in a program that normally tends to be relatively quiet, is a bit on the intrusive side. Many AIM users use the product at work, in a computer lab, or in some other environment where such audio messages may be unwanted. In addition, some people can be rather sensitive when it comes to unexpected audio playing for no apparent reason; I don’t know how many times I’ve recoiled because some website somewhere on my desktop decided to start playing music unexpectedly.

Indeed, I didn’t even realize at first that these ads were coming from AIM. Several times lately I had heard an ad for CareerBuilder playing through my computer’s speakers– usually on top of the MP3 I was listening to at the time!– but I was unable to actually track down the source of the ad until this week, when I happened to notice a video clip synchronized with the ad in my AIM buddy list. I was quite disappointed when I discovered that AIM was the application that was drowning out my music with these audio ads; I would have expected that AOL would know better than this.

But their intrusiveness isn’t the worst part. Even on my two-and-a-half-year-old machine, these video ads seem to use up an excessive amount of system resources for something as simple as an instant messaging client, causing the system to become a bit sluggish. And if that wasn’t bad enough, these rich-media ads have also had the rather unfortunate side effect of crashing certain people’s computers!

I’m clearly not the only one upset by this decision, judging from commentary at WebSpiffy and Doug’s Random Thoughts, among other sites.

Please, AOL. If you’re going to foist video and audio ads into our buddy list, at least give us an option to choose a more “lightweight” form of advertising instead.

10 Comments »

  1. I use dead aim to get rid of the adbox, and I like tabbed IM’s

    (to get an older free version of dead aim goto oldversions.com)

    To get rid of the audio I edited my c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file

    Just open the file with a text editor and add these lines, it will rid you of many things.

    127.0.0.1 ar.atwola.com
    127.0.0.1 ads.web.aol.com
    127.0.0.1 VTOT.proxy.aol.com
    127.0.0.1 ads.aol.com

    That’ll block any ad that isnt already on your machine.

    Also, you can delete viewpoint.exe in your C:\Program Files\AIM\Sysfiles folder. That gets rid of all audio ads.

    If you have a router, some allow blocking of websites, just add these to your block list.

    ar.atwola.com
    ads.web.aol.com
    VTOT.proxy.aol.com
    ads.aol.com

    anyway.

    Comment by Anonymous — 26-Dec-2003 @ 8:38 pm

  2. Actually, I solved the problem by hacking AIMRES.DLL with ResHacker. Specifically, the line in Dialog resource #323 containing “_AimAd” needs to be removed; doing that completely removes the ad from the buddy list.

    Comment by codeman38 — 26-Dec-2003 @ 11:33 pm

  3. Any way to block these ads on a Mac?

    Comment by Mike — 19-Feb-2004 @ 8:25 pm

  4. Mike: Googling for a ResEdit hack for AIM turns this up. http://www.bluebomber.com/aimx/

    Comment by codeman38 — 19-Feb-2004 @ 8:40 pm

  5. Any way to block em from a Mac? It’s called iChat- it’s free and already pre-installed. My PC at work started playing the AOL ads, mind you I work on audio at work so my speakers are usually turned up. I installed Trillian as soon as the first AIM audio ad blared through my speakers. Then I uninstalled AIM and haven’t looked back. I’ve had way more than one problem with AOL in the past anyway…

    Comment by plutoniumhead — 23-Apr-2005 @ 7:23 pm

  6. plutoniumhead: On the Mac end of things, I’ve become rather fond of Adium, myself, if only because it supports MSN and Yahoo as well.

    Comment by codeman38 — 23-Apr-2005 @ 11:34 pm

  7. How can I block ATWOLA from attacting my computer

    Comment by William N Payne — 13-Jun-2005 @ 8:27 pm

  8. Mike… You are a life saver. I’ve been searching for weeks for a solution like yours. Thanks.

    Now, I use AIM, Adium, and iChat simultainously.

    AIM is my prefered AIM client because it supports file sharing and animated icons.

    iChat is okay, particularly with Rondezvous, but it lacks many of the features of the standalone AIM client.

    I use Adium for YIM and MSN, and occasinally Rondezvous. I’m not too active with those two messangers, so it’s nice to have them all in one easy to use application. But the application’s difficulties with file transfers and direct connects make me use it generally as a last resort. Then again, I am quite fond of my DarkWing Duck icon.

    Though I will say, that if Adium cleaned up its interface, I’d drop iChat and AIM.

    Comment by Wooster — 14-Jun-2005 @ 5:54 pm

  9. Wooster: Actually, I’m the one who posted the link in response to Mike. But yeah, it is nice to be able to use the official AIM client without ads when one needs to.

    Comment by codeman38 — 14-Jun-2005 @ 6:22 pm

  10. What about ads that are not from aim itself. Audio spyware / malware in general is a real pain in the ass id say.

    Comment by uxi — 02-Aug-2008 @ 1:20 pm

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