Like many other people, I use my.yahoo.com as my browser homepage. Have for some years, now. It's a fine aggregator of news, weather, and financial and investment updates. But Yahoo was about to lose me as a customer—until I found a way to (maybe) defeat its evil plan for world domination. Well, domination of my Yahoo homepage, anyway.
The problem started about a week ago, when Yahoo! began putting an advertising block atop one of the columns on my "personal" homepage. It seemed to be an intrusion, but we've come to accept advertising as the price we pay for otherwise "free" media. Television does it; radio, magazines, newspapers, too. Banner ads appear on all kinds of websites, and every search engine service features paid results and advertisements. So much for "personal" homepages, I guess, but I'm willing to accept a little advertising with my morning news and evening investment portfolio updates.
Soon after the advertisements began, though, they became much more intrusive with animation designed to distract the eye. The design is extremely effective, the distraction almost impossible to ignore. True, once the ads complete their disturbing animated cycle they just sit there. But My Yahoo is a portal. One uses it to see and access articles and features, then returns to the homepage to continue browsing for other articles. And each time one returns to the homepage, another animated ad begins its irritating swooshing, popping, zooming cycle.
Today, the effect was even more distressing because the ad was not merely an animation, but a full-fledge commercial complete with a pounding music track and an annoying announcer. I can't imagine many people who would appreciate hearing all that noise in a business setting, so I'm sure most folks who live their workdays in cubicles will stop using MyYahoo for their news and information portal in order not to disturb their co-workers. The noisy ads proclaim to all within hearing, "I'm browsing the Internet now. On company time." Not something you might want to advertise.
Yahoo allows its My Yahoo users to comment on each ad, and I've made my opinion known. I doubt it will do any good, because the Yahoos don't seem to care very much about the opinions of their customers.
Searching for a way to politely decline the offer of ads on my "personal" homepage, I ran across the Yahoo Blog. The title of the most recent post there is "A Little Serenity amid 'The Blur.'" Wow! That's just what I'm looking for: a little peace and quiet and escape from blaring commercials. Of course, the post had nothing to do with that, but I thought I might add a comment to it, suggesting how Yahoo might create a little more serenity in this jangling online world of theirs.
Now, on the My Yahoo Blog page, there's a notice reading: "We encourage you to leave a comment and we'll likely read it when you do." So I clicked in the appropriate place, only to see this: "Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time." Seems it's been closed for quite a while.
Turns out many people aren't too happy with the new My Yahoo ads; there's an angry discussion about them on Yahoo's own Answers forum. And that's where I discovered Ad Block for Internet Explorer, which led me to Adblock Plus for my browser, Firefox. I downloaded and installed it in under a minute, and now My Yahoo is—so far—advertising-free.
Surely there's a more elegant and customer-friendly way for Yahoo to monetize the eyeballs its fine My Yahoo portal draws. I hope they find it soon. Just imagine what would happen if EVERYBODY blocked ALL advertising on the Web! There goes the advertising business model. Wouldn't that be terrible?