Innovative online ad is not necessarily accurate

Written by Adrian Holovaty on June 13, 2003

A short while ago, Steve Outing of E-Media Tidbits pointed out an innovative Flash banner ad for a 13-hour sale at Marshall Field's department stores, which is running on the home pages of and today and tomorrow. The ad has a countdown clock showing how much time is left before the sale. Here's what it looked like on my computer a few minutes ago:

Banner ad says 21 hours are left until the sale

It's an innovative ad, but there's a problem: Like the "current Baghdad time" clocks and baseball-strike countdown I've written about previously, it relies on the user's computer settings to provide correct time. My experience, from several years' worth of using public computers at libraries and universities, is that computer clocks are not often set correctly.

Hence, if your computer's clock is off by a year or so, this is what you'll see:

Banner ad says 8,781 hours are left until the sale

A more realistic, and less contrived, problem happens if your computer's clock is off by just a few hours; in that case, the ad will be inaccurate, but not so inaccurate that you'd question it.


Posted by Dan Martin on June 15, 2003, at 12:37 a.m.:

That is actually a very interesting javascript fix you came up with on the baseball-strike countdown. It is very simplistic, but it is also very effective. That should be the standard when doing any javascript countdown.

Posted by Adrian on June 15, 2003, at 2:08 a.m.:

Thanks, Dan.

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