The Latest Trend In Online Ads: Guilt Trips

A Tumblr user is collecting and posting digital finger wags

Jun 10, 2016 at 9:43 AM ET

You probably noticed that the ads you see when you visit various websites are taking on a real attitude. They’ll ask you a question or present you with an offer, and if you want to click away from the ad, you have to click on some sort of passive aggressive reasoning to do so. Guilt tripping internet users into clicking ads a new method of marketing, and one Tumblr blog called ConfirmShaming is now collecting them.

There are plenty of examples, and they generally stick loosely to the theme of the site you’re on. Here’s one about photography:

How are you supposed to respond to that? This next one from Esquire is actually kind of funny:

Naturally, this Harper’s Bazaar ad tempts you with shoes:


This one from FTD basically calls you an idiot for not clicking:

These pages are everywhere now, and Hacker News has some insight as to why. In short, the tactic works:

People use these pop-ups (Landing Pages, Optinmonster, etc) because they are extremely effective at capturing emails. Your average programmer or techie on HN is horrified when prompted to sign up via a pop-up, but many regular users will just comply. The site has now converted a random passer-by, into someone who might continue to receive new content (and marketing material) in the future. Nothing comes even close to the ROI that you get from people subscribing to your mailing list. Note that I’m not talking about whether this is right or wrong, just that it’s done for a very good reason.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not annoying. It’s the kind of passive aggressive tone you’d expect from your mother, not an internet ad. But if you don’t want to be left out, you can check out dozens more on ConfirmShaming.