Big Mouth: Watch the skies

This article first appeared in issue 242 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

Pop-up ads aren’t so common these days. Most browsers block them by default, and as more and more of us do the bulk of our browsing on mobile devices, or use apps, the opportunities for invasive pop-ups have grown fewer.

Unfortunately, they’ve moved into the real world instead.

I saw four examples this morning. When I tried to join the main road, I couldn’t see the traffic because of the white van a local plumber has turned into a billboard and parked permanently at the roadside. There was another one across from the petrol station, this time for a tyre fitter. Cresting a hill’s blind summit, I nearly crashed into a Smart car parked sideways in the middle of the road to advertise a restaurant. And, at a famously fast, busy and dangerous roundabout, my sightline onto oncoming cars was blocked by an enormous inflatable billboard – literally, a real-life popup ad – for a building company.

It’s worth pointing out that this is illegal, of course (the relevant legislation is the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, in case you fancy grassing any local offenders to the council). But that’s not what matters. What matters here is that businesses want to advertise. Who cares if it’s illegal, dangerous, makes your town look hellish or forces everybody to experience really horrible typography?

Exactly the same thing happens online. I’ve lost track of the time I’ve spent zapping spam comments on my WordPress sites, deleting unsolicited mail from my inbox or getting enraged at the Twitter users who hijack every passing hashtag to spam anyone who’s watching trends. I get especially annoyed at the small-time spammers, the ones who post the same message from multiple accounts using multiple hashtags, such as “Good morning #town1 #town2 #town3 #town4 #town5” or “Airport taxi £17 #town1 #town2 #town3 #town4 #town5” or “Japanese knotweed treatment #monday #tuesday #wednesday #thursday #friday”.

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The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of eight full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Ecommerce Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Editor, Digital Art and 3D Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Beth Nicholls and Staff Writer Natalie Fear, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.