Pop Up Stopper
Not too long ago, seeing a pop-up ad appear meant that you were either
on a page that distributed illegal software or looking at something that
isn't suitable for the eyes of under 18-year-olds. Back then, pop-ups
were seen as an annoying but inseparable part of the Web's dark side.
However, encountering them while visiting larger and more reputable Web
sites was something that only a small amount of people could even dream
Nobody could have believed it at that time, but these yesterday's dreams
have become the reality of today. In the eyes of many advertisers and
webmasters, pop-ups have shaken off their dirty past and are now considered
to be quite acceptable and harmless. Rather than the result of the general
Internet population starting to see pop-ups in a better light, this change
in attitude is more a case of making a virtue out of a necessity.
Pop Up Killer
As everyone knows by now, the large dot-com's are in trouble
and need cash. The continuing decrease in the click-through rates of banner
ads has reduced the demand for banner space, and it is clear that the
sites that live off advertising need something to replace this drying
income stream. At the same time, an increasing amount of evidence seems
to indicate that pop-up advertisements are more likely to be noticed and
generate more sales than banner ads. Thus, it is no surprise that pop-ups
have been able to break out of the dark side into the mainstream.
After pop-ups started to appear on major websites, many webmasters of
small- and middle-sized sites have begun to consider following in the
footsteps of the big guys. After all, we've all heard countless success
stories, and the users have probably already become accustomed to pop-ups
While it is certainly true that pop-ups can really work, it should be
remembered that using them does also have multiple negative consequences.
According to several sources, pop-ups do draw more attention than banners,
but users are also very hostile towards them. For example, a Statistical
Research report from last spring  claimed that pop-ups are 50% more
likely to be noticed than banners, but also 100% more likely to be considered
intrusive. Thus, by having pop-ups on your site, you're increasing the
effectiveness of your advertising, but you're also hurting the reputation
of your site and driving your visitors away.
Even if you're willing to accept the above side-effect, it is doubtful
whether pop-ups can be used as a long term solution for the falling response
rates to Internet advertising. As we remember from the past, banner ads
had splendid click-through rates when they were introduced. Over time,
the novelty wore off and click-through rates began to deteriorate. It
is likely that pop-ups are doing so well partly because they've been used
on a large scale for a relatively small amount of time. When pop-ups keep
on spreading, users will eventually learn to ignore them as well.
The third problem with using pop-ups is born out of the two previous
ones, the hatred users feel towards them and the fact that they are spreading
like wildfire. Even now, a wide range of software that prevents pop-ups
from being displayed is available for anyone to download for free. The
use of such software isn't very common at the moment, but if pop-up advertising
continues to grow, it is reasonable to assume that users will begin to
install countermeasures at an increasing rate.
Some may doubt that software that removes pop-ups will never become a
major concern, no matter how widely pop-ups are going to be used in the
future. Software that removes banners from web pages has been out there
for a long time, but it has never really "catched on". Why should
this situation be any different?
The difference is that as stated in the Statistical Research report mentioned
above, users find pop-ups to be more intrusive than banners. If each of
the sites you visit displays two banner ads, you'll probably feel a bit
annoyed, but put up with it. However, if they'd all launch two pop-ups,
what would you do? I myself would be scrambling to download a copy of
Pop-Up Stopper or PopUp Killer.
What's the point?
If your alternatives are to either close your site or install pop-ups,
the choice is not a hard one. But if your Internet business is doing fine
and you're thinking about adding pop-ups to make it do even better, beware.
Pop-ups can create profits, but they can also create trouble. Look before
: Statistical Research: "How People Use (tm) the Internet 2001",