Falk Offers Pop-up Blocker Workaround

Online ad management firm Falk eSolutions AG has bowed technology that detects pop-up blockers and automatically converts pop-up and pop-under inventory into alternate rich media formats, mostly floating ads, on the fly.

The new tool is intended to compensate for incidents of failed pop-up impressions, which have likely risen sharply as consumers have increasingly embraced pop-up blockers such as those offered through the Google and Yahoo toolbars.

“The exact same creative file can automatically be converted to an alternative format without developing an entirely different creative campaign strategy,” said Joe Apprendi, CEO of Falk North America.

While Forrester estimated in late 2003 that 15 percent of Internet users had installed pop-up blockers, Apprendi said Falk’s ad delivery metrics have found that pop-up buys regularly generate failures at twice that rate.

“If a publisher is seeing a 30 percent degradation in ad impressions, that money is going out the window,” Apprendi said.

But some, like Nate Elliott, an associate analyst with JupiterResearch, doubts advertisers will find the prospect of substituting alternate formats appealing, mainly because of the differences between the units, including creative and pricing strategy.

“Pop-ups are cheap, floating ads are expensive,” he said. “They’re not the same thing.”

Apprendi countered that publishers are not required to offer up their floating inventory at pop-up prices, and he questioned the logic of different billing rates for essentially the same ad size and creative.

“We don’t necessarily see a difference between delivering a pop-up at 40k versus a floating ad at the same size,” he said. “The publisher is free to charge whatever they want… but it all boils down to performance. If a marketer doesn’t see a perceptible performance difference, then they may not want to pay. ”

In most cases, when Falk’s ad serving system registers a user-installed blocker, it will cancel the pop-up delivery attempt, and instead launch a floating ad, although Apprendi pointed out that under certain circumstances, pop-up creative could be delivered within skyscraper and other in-page units.

While the new tool may provide pop-up advertisers with some recourse in the face of growing consumer control, it may turn out to be a band-aid for a doomed ad medium. In the coming months, the viability of all pop-ups will face a big challenge when Microsoft’s latest Windows service pack update is widely released. That update includes a pop-up blocker, which is now slated to be turned on by default.

Falk is releasing its tool as part of an integrated suite of rich media ad management tools, dubbed AdSolution FX, within AdSolution ad server platform. AdSolution FX is expected to launch in the coming days.

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