I think it's safe to say that we are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to the Web. I'm probably one of the most extreme examples. I found a comfort zone years ago and never really shifted from that. I have a way I tend to surf, seek, shop, and speak online. So why change it?
Well it's quite simple: Times have changed and I need to as well. One day I fired up my laptop and within moments I was horrified. It seemed that I got just about every pop-up, pop-under, spyware, adware, virus, etc. How could this happen? I spend a great deal of time and money purchasing and running anti virus, spyware, and adware programs. I run diagnostics on every machine every day. It seems it's not enough.
The problems were too sophisticated for me to rectify. I had to bring my machines over to my tech guy. After several phone calls (because he couldn't e-mail me) and a couple of days he gave me the dirty news. He boastfully told me that I need to block ads, not use IM and asked why the heck I was using Internet Explorer (IE). Of course I launched into the remember-I-am-in-advertising-and-need-to-see-ads conversation. I also told him that I have to IM. I have clients, colleagues, and employees that ping me constantly. I have advertising there as well. It is also my No. 1 way I keep in touch with friends.
I was able to compromise on viewing ads and IMing. However, I cannot even tell you all the junk he put on my machine to be "preventative." He also was not very happy about it. The battle I didn't win was the browser. Was I a Microsoft/IE fan? Was I so loyal I wouldn't allow for a compromise? No not at all. I never really thought about it before. I used IE because it was everywhere. Quite frankly, I never really thought I needed a better solution.
My tech guy put Firefox on all my machines, even though I was more than hesitant to try something new. However, according to him I got the bulk of the junk on my machine via IE. Two days of running around looking for alternate machines was enough to make me never go back. As a creature of habit I do not like change. I was forced to change, though.
I was relieved when I was able to seamlessly transfer all my bookmarks over within moments. As I began to surf I did notice that all I could see was text. I had to right click to see any images. After becoming frustrated as hell, I realized how to work around it. Extra steps cause time and time is a commodity to me. However, safety takes priority.
It's been several months now that I have been an exclusive Firefox user. I would never go back. I must say life certainly is not perfect with this browser. Don't get me wrong, it is a lot safer. However, not all sites are up to speed with Firefox. In fact, many of them do not work at all. Sites now have to be developed to support multiple browsers. I'm sure this is a tiny bump in the road.
If you haven't had the need or desire to switch, think of it from a business standpoint. Most consumers know a heck of a lot less than we do. If they see pop-ups, they attribute it to the site. Our brands are becoming more and more vulnerable. Over 25 million people have already switched. As advertisers and marketers, we need to look at today's problems in this area with an eye toward solutions for the future.
It is critical that we build sites across multiple browsers. We must also take ad-blocking tools into consideration when trying to reach consumers. Just like the growing popularity of ad skipping tools in the offline world (mostly via DVRs), we need t think about how this will impact our online efforts. The way I look at it is to be hopeful new browser solutions like Mozilla's Firefox will help us protect the Web and provide our customers with a rich experience. What do you think?