Where is this audio advertisement coming from?

A few minutes ago, I sat down to my computer, came to the Straight Dope, looked at the threads in General Questions, and opened several of them in new tabs in my browser. So far, business as usual.

A few seconds later, my speakers start blaring a commercial for the CBS tv show “The Doctors”. Immediately, I went to Task Manager, but my Firefox browser was the only app running. So I went to the various tabs, looking for an ad for that show – I expected that there was a visual ad somewhere which was playing the audio. But I saw no ads for any tv shows at all. About 10-15 seconds later, the commercial finished, and the speakers have been silent ever since.

Here’s my question: Is there any way to figure out how to prevent this in the future? Please do not tell me to keep my speakers off, and turn them on only when I want to hear something because that would be way too often and it shouldn’t be my responsibility anyway. (I’m not being lazy; I just don’t want to be their slave.)

I suppose that I could write a nasty letter to CBS or to The Doctors, and complain about their advertising practices. But that would not be very effective, and in fact would probably backfire on me – it would give them evidence that their advertising is very effective. (Especially since I don’t watch The Doctors anyway, I can’t really boycott it.) I would much rather be able to prove that The Straight Dope is responsible, and write to the people here, then stop coming here for a while.

But I have no idea how to figure out who it is that I should be yelling at. Any suggestions?

There’s really no way to debug this with the information given. Were there other websites open on the other tabs in your browsers? If not, then it came from one of the SD ads, probably in violation of the SD agreements with advertisers. But those are a complex web of different ad agencies and services, and difficult to completely enforce ahead of time.

If there were other sites open in other tabs it really could be anyone. The ad might not have been visible on the screen when you did a quick scan through the tabs, or it might not have loaded the images, or could have been cleverly concealed on the page.

Since this is really a question about the Board, I"ve moved it from GQ to ATMB.

samclem, Moderator

Now that you mention it, one tab was open to my Juno email, and the other 5-6 or so were all on Straight Dope. But for all I know, the commercial might have come from some malware that installed itself days ago.

…which reminds me… It’s been a while since I ran Ad-Aware. Here I go!

Although I see your point, the unfortunate fact is the only sure way to prevent it is to turn them off (or be extremely lucky—even though I have adblocker on, some ads on some sites do slip through, but I never saw an audio ad myself).

Usually if ads have sound on the Dope they don’t play automatically – you trigger the ads by touching them in some fashion – just mousing over most of them or cursoring past by accident is sufficient for the ad to sound off.

I dislike these ads too and promise never to use any service or watch any show that uses them. Just my personal preference.

Occasionally an ad slips through that plays as soon as it renders, whether you touch it or not. We try to get those ads pulled as soon as we hear about them.

Under the circumstances as given I don’t know where that sound came from. It could be something on a page, or something that popped under your windows, even. Not sure where it came from.

If anyone else has this experience please try to note carefully the circumstances and let us know. I’ll be listening out as well.

Sorry this happened to you.

Just one purely personal approach to sound - I keep my headphones plugged in. That way, if inadvertent sound kicks off, it is very muted and only really is audible to me, and maybe my closest neighbors even here something. Vs having whatever audio run out loud across the room.

If I actually want to hear the sound, I put on the headphones. Even for actual work audio things.

You never do! :wink:

I was wondering if someone would get that. Anyway, even on the ads that don’t get blocked I’ve never been unlucky enough to get an audio one.