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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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Submitted on
April 28, 2011
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MuffiaSmith Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
Dear deviantART, I am having to use my smartphone due to one of the banner ads refreshing automatically and attacking my computer. Yes, I do have adblock, and yes, I do have antivirus and spyware detector. Currently, my computer got attack from a Java malware Trojan, a very difficult virus to remove. Please, make your banner ads static, and please double check you advertisers.
Wolfinstar Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I was almost redirected to a site with malware (and Chrome blocked it) where "attackers could be on this site and at the ready to steal photos, credit card data and other personal information". 
Luckyducky12 Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok so. First off i want to say that i haven't been getting pop ups in a while so i don't know if im lucky or if you guys and gals solved that issue! Tackling hug

However there is a new issue. The ads that do pop up have sounds to them. Its like ads on youtube and its very annoying.
silverexpress Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014
Just today recieved this
squirrelismyfriend Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Sounds like the real decision-makers here are the ones concerned about maximizing revenue, not supporting the members.  I don't know the advertising rate setup, but I wonder if placement of active ads pays better than static ads.
Alienette Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014
So why aren't you doing anything about it already? Like allowing only static banners?
chibichiquita Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014
Hi there! I've been trying to tell them the same for ages, it's such an easy thing to do really, just allowing static adds. But it's like talking to a wall!
squirrelismyfriend Featured By Owner Edited Sep 2, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Hey, Heidi.  Here's the simple solution to the atrocious advertisement problems plaguing DeviantArt:  Disallow executable code in all advertisements.  No executable code (Java, Javascript, PHP, media players, etc.) means none of the ads can DO anything other than show their pretty pictures.

By allowing advertisements to have executable code in them, DeviantArt is encouraging the advertisers to find ways to place executable content in them.  Stop encouraging them!!  Modify the DeviantArt site so that advertisements are images - and images ONLY!!

BTW, in the time it took me to write this comment, I saw no less than 8 autoplay ads (2 for Hollywood Insider, 1 for soccer, 1 for a White House announcement on terrorism, 1 for HealthDay and cardiovascular disease, 1 for Allure and the new Dallas show, 1 for a commentary on Ferguson Missouri, and 1 for something I think was New York Insider or something like that).  I've reported the first three before, but they still keep showing up, so I guess DeviantArt really isn't doing much to eliminate them.  And the reason I didn't just close the window is that I am in the middle of writing a critique of a Deviant's photograph.
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.
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!
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