America Online is launching a service allowing subscribers to block most unsolicited pop-up online ads – even on non-AOL websites.

Part of its ongoing effort to stem the flow of customers to rival ISPs, the online giant will roll out the new feature to AOL 8.0 users within two weeks.

The service allows subscribers to nominate websites whose pop-ups they want to view. AOL claims its service is superior to a similar feature offered by rival EarthLink since non-advertising pop-ups will be allowed, as will pop-ups on secure sites (e.g. banks) which include forms and important information.

Subscribers will be informed when an ad is blocked by an audio alert. However, animated pop-ups using ‘flash’ technology will not be stopped. Nor, curiously, will pop-ups on AOL sites promoting AOL services.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff