Are you nostalgic for the early days of the internet where interactive banner ads encouraging you to refinance your mortgage were on the banner of every single website you visited? Boy, do we have good news for you.
Tyler Grant, a 20-year-old from New York, has been working since August 2016 to download and archive over 66,000 banner ads from the early 2000s so you can relive the days when Flash reigned.
“I really like advertisements and I have been fascinated by how they look, and since Adobe Flash Player is being discontinued, I felt that these flash banner ads shouldn't be lost forever,” Grant told Motherboard in an online chat. “All Adobe Flash Content deserves to be saved and archived. It is a way of preserving the internet so people can see what it used to look like and what it used to offer.”
All of the ads that Grant downloaded are publicly available on Nielsen’s Ad Relevance database (which is now known as Ad Intel Digital), but they require the user to make an account and enable Flash on their broswer, which is one of the worst things you could possibly do for the security of your computer. (Disable your Flash, please.) Now, all you have to do is go to Grant’s Pastebin page or the Internet Archive, download the files, play Dangerously In Love (or the 2003 album of your choice), and be transported to an earlier age of the internet. You still have to have Flash on your computer to view the files, though, and Flash won’t be available for downloads or updates starting in 2020 (at least from Adobe.)
Grant told Motherboard that James Gardner’s blog Adverlicio.us, which also archives and shares online ads from the early internet, inspired him to dip his toes in internet archiving. Grant said he plans to continue his efforts and archive as many ads as he can.
“I plan to collect all of the LowerMyBills Ads, and so far I have 600 LowerMyBills Banner Ads from 2003 and 2004,” Grant said. “I also aim to collect all the Sonic The Hedgehog Banner Ads.”
When asked for the his favorite ad he’s collected, Grant referred to a cringey Yahoo ad from 2004 that features Ben Stein and Al Franken teasing the opposing political party about how they believe its members use Yahoo.
“Republicans use Yahoo for hugging trees, protecting little itty-bitty insects,” Stein sneers.
“Republicans will check Yahoo News for the latest on large boats,” Franken says. “A lot of them get their trophy wives on Yahoo.”