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meltingpoint melts down web

The end is nigh! Maybe.

As if the industry wasn't in enough trouble already, a small British company called meltingpoint is apparently hell bent on destroying the entire internet economy as we know it, thanks to a little program with the unlikely name of "Fotino". This promises to allow "businesses with control over user access to the internet [to] extend their control of advertising beyond the boundaries of their home page". In other words, it allows ISPs and cyber-cafés to insert banner ads, pop-up windows and other annoyances wherever they like while you are browsing the web using their service.

The shockwave trailer for the service shows how Fotino will allow ISPs to place their own context-sensitive banners and buttons on top of the ones which appear on most websites, to cause pop-up windows to appear at will, and even to add advertising text to e-mails sent through web-mail services such as Hotmail (although you can at least delete them before you send your mail). Needless to say this is likely to be incredibly annoying for users, but more importantly it would probably be the final nail in the internet marketing system if the plans went ahead.

At the moment many commercial websites rely heavily on revenue from advertising on their site, but in the last year the rates which companies pay for advertising space has plumetted to somewhere in the region of $0.50 per thousand banner impressions. If ISPs could hijack the advertising space on your site without having to pay you a dime for it, any website or network which currently relies on advertising revenue would (even more) rapidly be facing bankruptcy unless they could find a new way of making money. Needless to say we're not terribly impressed with the idea...