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Darn you pesky e-tailers and your underhand tricks...
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

Darn you pesky e-tailers and your underhand tricks...

Apparently e-tailers are resorting to dirty tricks and underhand tactics to trap web users on their sites. Over 25 per cent of the web's top e-tailers are using a variety of intrusive techniques to attract consumers to their sites and keep them there, research from Cyveillance bemoans. Besides the ubiquitous pop-up ads, the research lists a host of tactics used by mainstream e-tailers to boost traffic and sales. These include mouse-trapping, the practice of denying the user the ability to use their back button to escape, and framing, a way of making users think they've left the site by showing another site's content within the original window. Some sites mislabel links to send users to unintended destinations. At the extreme end, some sites are even changing users' browser and PC settings: this is clearly a step too far. However, the bottom line is that e-tailers are going to the wall left, right and centre. Internet companies are failing to secure the funding that once came so readily to hand. The web ad market continues to fall so dot-coms are forced to find alternative sources of funding. The 'free internet' is under pressure and paid-for web content may be the future. Admittedly, some ads can be clumsy and intrusive but then again no more than those in the real world. Just try to escape from Oxford Street institution Selfridge's: it's almost impossible. Looking for the exit just leads you higher and higher into the building as you pass increasingly crazed shoppers, themselves trying to find their way out. Meanwhile silicon.com's local Mark and Spencer in Chelsea has resorted to the insidious tactic of leaving chocolate-dipped flapjacks on their till counters making the place all but impossible to resist. Clever people. There are billboards everywhere. You can hardly blame web firms for trying the same tricks online. In truth, what really offends the senses is that the formerly ad-free haven that was the free internet has been quickly overrun. We're being subjected to the same marketing bombardment online as we have been for years offline. The internet economy has had a rollercoaster ride in its short but colourful life and online advertising is on a steep evolutionary curve. The situation will improve: online ads will eventually become more streamlined and less intrusive as advertisers learn their trade. A few mistakes are inevitable and ultimately forgivable.
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