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What are banner ads, and why does deviantART have them?

Any active Internet user knows about banner ads -- the square or rectangular advertisements that appear on sites across the Web.  This form of online advertising enables sites like deviantART to earn revenue by sending traffic (aka visitors) to advertisers.  The money earned from these ads, viewable to logged-in and logged-out deviants (excluding Premium Members), enables us to bring you bigger and better features, and allows us to maintain and upgrade current ones.

By and large, deviantART is a free site.  We do offer enhanced or extra features for Premium Members, but our core art tools that give deviants the ability to publish and promote their works are free.  While many Internet enthusiasts see banner ads as annoying, the revenue they generate allows sites like us to improve the quality of their services and add new features.

A crash course in network ads

Every month, deviantART serves billions of ads across the site.  While we do employ a small ad sales team who works with premium brands and ad agencies, the bulk of the ads displayed on deviantART are delivered through outside ad networks.  These independent, third-party providers serve ads onto deviantART using a combination of advertisers they have procured themselves, as well as other ad networks they have partnered with.  As stated above, deviantART requires the ad networks we work with to adhere to a strict list of ad quality standards.  If the aforementioned types of bad ads appear, deviantART works to identify the ad network at fault so we can remove the ad, the advertiser, or the entire ad network in question.

Ad networks have become a major part of the online advertising landscape, and it's safe to say a vast majority of the ads you see across the Internet are served from ad networks.  Most networks allow advertisers to purchase ad impressions using self-service platforms and may or may not review the content of the ads before distributing to their publishing partners, such as deviantART.  Even if the ads are reviewed, it's very possible for an advertiser to swap out a good ad with a bad ad, without being caught by the ad network.  This can allow an individual advertiser, with malicious intent, to circumvent the ad review process the ad networks undergo for new advertisers.

Screenshot of deviantART units Typical ad units found on deviantART
Spider-web by mjagiellicz                     The structure of ad networks can sometimes look like spider webs, since many ad networks partner with other ad networks who partner with other ad networks, etc... (Image credit: Spider-web by *mjagiellicz)

How you can help

Ad networks are constantly improving their monitoring and scrubbing technologies to prevent bad ads from running through their systems.  Unfortunately, identifying bad ads is often a difficult process, but there are ways you can protect yourself and help combat the problem.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a government agency tasked with protecting public health and safety.  In times of crisis, the CDC utilizes the idea of "shared responsibility" -- they acknowledge their role in keeping the public safe and well-informed, but pass some of the responsibility in the form of preparedness back to the public.  It's with this concept in mind that we ask deviants to arm themselves in the fight against viruses and malware.
  • Protect your computer by downloading free anti-virus software, such as AVG or Microsoft Security Essentials, and be sure to keep the software up-to-date.
  • Use a browser that has built-in malware detection.  Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox both include this feature.
  • Deviants who want to go the extra mile can help us identify bad ads.
Download AVG
Download Microsoft Security Essentials
Report bad ads

We're in this together

These types of bad ads affect all major publishers on the Internet, not just deviantART.  Google has reported that malware attacks on the web, such as fake anti-virus programs, are a growing threat and they've seen "an upward trend" in the amount they encounter each week.  Preventing these types of ads is easier said than done.  Rest assured that we take this issue very seriously and are doing everything we can to thwart the problem.
In just the last week, using data provided by deviants, we were able to identify the source of a malware attack.  We notified our largest ad providers and asked them to turn off that specific ad network.  Some of our partners had also detected the malware and had preemptively turned off the offending network earlier in the day.  One partner didn't report detection on their own, but turned off the network based on our request.
We vigorously oppose bad ads, as they severely hinder one's deviantART experience -- an experience that we're constantly shaping and refining. Please know that this is one of our primary focuses at this time. Aside from what we've mentioned here, we're also investigating other solutions so that we can be even more proactive in the fight against malware and viruses -- including working with other social networks to share relevant information and building relationships with Internet security firms.  Thank you for taking the time to arm yourself with the knowledge to combat any malicious attacks in the future.


Recent Updates

(Updated May 6, 2011)
  • Turned off a major partner that we suspected of being the possible source of the recent malware/virus alerts.
  • Made changes to all remaining partners, requiring them to follow tighter guidelines about who they worked with and how those partnerships operated.
  • Began development of tools, that will allow deviantART staff (and possibly deviants) to better detect and identify the sources of malicious advertising.
  • Continued discussions with various third party malware/virus detection firms about monitoring deviantART ads and site content.

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April 28, 2011
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:icondevilishdb:
DevilishDB Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014
Sounds more like you have a virus. Check your browser extensions, your list of installed software on your computer, and scan your computer for viruses.
Reply
:icontanner28:
Tanner28 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wonderful to hear! You're welcome, and glad I was able to help! May the remainder of your internet days be spent surfing with little to no more ads!
Reply
:iconoliver-kriel:
Oliver-Kriel Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014
Deviantart has been infected! Terrible redirects are happening to strange adverts>>> Sexy Asian /  Brazilian Girls. What is going on Deviant, you used to ask us before redirecting, now it just happens when you leave the window open for to long without even clicking. 
Reply
:iconferocefv:
FeroceFV Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's already making an enormous difference to me on DeviantArt. Thanks again!
Reply
:icontanner28:
Tanner28 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Understandable that you'd be reluctant about ad blockers because of bad experiences.
It's a little bit of trial and error (even when using the best reviewed) programs to find just the right ones for you.

Here's hoping AdBlock Plus will be helpful for you and that you won't get any more of those nasty ads (with the potential threat of doing bad things to your computer).

Best of luck to you and, sweet! I gave you a llama in return, just because I could. :)
Reply
:iconferocefv:
FeroceFV Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's an excellent suggestion. I gave upon such software after I had some bad experiences with ad blockers several years ago, and I'm rather embarrassed to say that I wasn't aware of Adblock Plus. I'll give it a try. Please accept this llama as a token of my thanks.
Reply
:icontanner28:
Tanner28 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
To you and anyone else ho might, later, read this comment :

Ever thought about using an ad blocker? There are a lot of options and no reason why you should be expected to tolerate those popups and malicious software attacks. (If you ask me, it's a bit like being expected to tolerate getting beaten with a stick every time you leave your house to do anything. ) Especially if it might, potentially, one day lead to your computer crashing and being replaced. (Not cheap. Not fun. Speaking from experience there. )

After the ad virus scare here, it was a wakeup call for me to take action and protect my beloved computer. I found AdBlock Plus, installed it, and on most websites I don't get ANY ads.

When I get enough money saved up, I'm gonna get myself a subsciption because there are features I want access to with a membership. (Had an old account before this one where I got to have a subsciption and I LOVED it :heart:. ) So DA will still get money from me, even if it won't be from revenue from their ads loading on my pc.

As long as I keep seeing people come here and complain that this problem keeps happening, Adblock on DA is staying *ON*. (The day it's safe, I'll turn it off. )
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:iconferocefv:
FeroceFV Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is out of control. I'm getting pop up tabs to fraudulent websites that keep popping up. I'm getting malicious software attacks on a regular basis. This doesn't happen on any other major site I visit. DeviantArt needs to get its house in order, because the rats are running rampant.
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