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CPU hogging banner ads

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday August 29, 2009 )

Something that’s becoming an increasingly annoying issue for Joe Surfer is advertising that’s not only bandwidth heavy, but also chews up processor resources – like all of it.

These ads aren’t from small-time merchants who wouldn’t know any better; but from major companies shelling out big bucks to marketing agencies and graphic design firms that should.

I have a fairly new notebook running a 2 GHZ dual core processor and 4 gig of RAM and noticed it was really slowing down on some sites – but it was quite intermittent.

Today it slowed down on a site I frequent where this hasn’t happened before – but I noticed a rather intricate Flash based ad appearing at the same time. I fired up Task Manager, selecting the “Performance” tab and noticed CPU usage at around 85% – way too high considering it was the only window open and I had no other applications running except for the usual background stuff.

I reloaded the page and a different ad appeared, CPU usage settled down to 2 – 5%. I continued to refresh the page and the other banners had a similar negligible effect. Then the original offending ad loaded again and bang – straight up to 85%.

This can be one of the problems with Flash – sure, it can do some amazing stuff, but if it’s not utilized properly it can really be a system resource hog. It becomes even more frustrating when the application in question has no real purpose and isn’t even particularly eye-popping.

I imagine on slower machines than mine, this particular site would slow things down to a grinding halt when this banner ad appears, driving visitors away.

It’s not good for the company advertising, nor the publisher on whose site it appears.

Really, the advertiser, who no doubt paid a ton for this creative campaign should be kicking the marketing firm responsible solidly in the ass.

But these companies will never know unless we tell them – so if you come across a similar scenario, take a minute to drop them and the site where you saw it a polite note to let them know the ad in question is a CPU hog; and perhaps explain to them in simple terms what this entails. It’s also something to bear in mind if you’re getting Flash banners made up.


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