Sneaky Tactics: Making Adverts Look Like the Browser Part 2


In 2008 I blogged about a site displaying adverts disguised as browser-style yellow bars and the risks associated with this shady tactic (especially if something a little more sinister than an advert were linked!)

Clearly nothing has changed in the past 2 years, because it’s still happening.

I clicked through to an article in The Independent whilst using Google Chrome and saw:


Note the almost convincing Chrome-alike yellow notice bar across the top? It beggars belief that a respectable UK newspaper would use this sort of sneakery to push their new browser extension, especially as they’ve hijacked the Chrome icons to make it all the more convincing.

When did it become OK to prey on the ignorance of users?

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

12 comments so far

  1. Han said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    It would be ironic if you saw than on an independent article talking about spoof emails and the like!

  2. Mumblies said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Sneaky buggers! This just goes to show you cannot be too careful on the net. :S

  3. Jenni said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I just viewed the page in Firefox on a Mac and didn’t get a Firefox-style plug-in suggestion – I was half expecting to. Seems weird that they’d choose Chrome as a target when it’s generally people more familiar with the web that use it (as opposed to IE).

  4. Rebecca said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm


    There are also the ads that make themselves look like legitimate new articles when they pop up. People know not to generally install extensions they didn’t want, but when a popular news site appears to be advocating some weight-loss product? :\

    Ads that are made to look trust-worthy… bad news. :(

  5. Cristina said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    When did it become OK to prey on the ignorance of users?

    When greed overtook common decency. :P

  6. Audrey said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Taking advantage of people has always been a viable (albeit immoral) business tactic. I am on your side though, don’t mistake me, this is definitely not a fair tactic.

  7. Theresa said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    It’s not about what’s "OK", it’s about what works. I’m not supporting it in any way, but it’s just the way things are.

  8. Mimi said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Ha, I got it as well. I use a super ad-blocker extension so I thought maybe that would be blocked. Alas, it was not. That is extremely tricky.

  9. Anita said:
    On May 28, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I saw the same thing! It seemed different than the real chrome bars so I just hit the x-button.

  10. Dave Angel said:
    On June 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I wish Google and the other search engines could do something about this and hand out penaltys to websites that do this. Also from a visitors POV, if I came across a website that had adverts like this I would never return.

  11. Jim's Mother said:
    On June 4, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Sneaky annoying adverts. As users, we don’t really have that much right to choose, especially when you are facing some big companies in the world. All know that google is using some shady tech to collect user info. But we still google a lot on the internet. There is really not much you can do about it.

  12. Val Garner said:
    On June 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Seems like shady new tactics are always coming out. Some of the methods even off line businesses are doing these days are also reaching new lows. Ticks me off for sure.