This study comprised two experiments to examine the distracting effects of advertisement familiarity, location, and onset on the performance of a selective attention task. In Exp. 1, familiar advertisements presented in peripheral vision disrupted selective attention when the attention task was more demanding, suggesting that the distracting effect of advertisements is a product of task demands and advertisement familiarity and location. In Exp. 2, the onset of the advertisement shortly before, or after, the attention task captured attention and disrupted attentional performance. The onset of the advertisement before the attention task reduced target response time without an increase in errors and therefore facilitated performance. Despite being instructed to ignore the advertisements, the participants were able to recall a substantial proportion of the familiar advertisements. Implications for the presentation of advertisements during human computer interaction were discussed.