Pop-Up Ads: More Problem Than Profits?


In its upcoming Interactive Marketing report, eMarketer will examine some notable online advertising success stories in what is otherwise a down market. This includes formats such as classified ads and search engine pay-for-placement. But some web advertising creates problems for both publishers and advertisers, and most visible among these formats are pop-up ads.

People hate pop-ups. That surely sounds extreme, but look at some recent actions by various internet service providers and websites.

In July 2002, the website iVillage said it would cut pop-up ads from its network by the end of the third quarter in reaction to complaints from its predominantly female audience. The site did, however, admit that a few pop-ups would continue, but “mostly tied to research and in-house subscription offerings,” according to AdAge. In fact, a survey done for iVillage by Vividence discovered that 92.5% of the website’s audience finds pop-up advertising to be the web’s most frustrating feature.

In August 2002, EarthLink began to provide its customers with free software to prevent pop-up ads from appearing. The Atlanta-based internet service provider (ISP), one of the largest in the US with about 4.9 million subscribers, thinks enough of this service to trumpet the pop-up blocker in its newest advertising campaign.

Then, in October 2002, America Online announced it will no longer sell more pop-up ads to outside companies, reacting to feedback from its subscribers. However, the world’s largest ISP will still allow house-ad pop-ups to appear. Besides this evidence of a mounting counter-attack to pop-up ads, surveys such as one by Valentine Radford — a Kansas City, MO-based ad agency — indicate that 74% of US consumers find pop-ups far more annoying than any other type of ad. Even other interactive ads, such as banners and e-mail, barely hit the annoyance radar screen.(segue)

By David Hallerman

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