Pop-ups, May Ye Rest in Peace

Someone please call a funeral director; we’ll soon need his services.

A recently released study equates pop-ups with “brand suicide.” When I read that, I grinned from ear to ear.

After conducting extensive research into the role and impact of pop-ups in online advertising, English consultancy Bunnyfoot Universality released a study last week showing 60 percent of users believe the ads could make them mistrust the brand being advertised.

The study measured users’ attitudes and opinions as they relate to their perception of the Web site and the advertiser. It found 50 percent of consumers closed the ads before they loaded completely. Only 2 percent could determine the name of the advertised brand.

Study highlights:

  • Users feel insulted at pop-ups’ appearance because it suggests they can’t find what they are looking for themselves.

  • Users feel imposed upon because they have to take action to delete pop-ups.
  • Users are irritated by non-targeted ads.
  • Users really hate when pop-ups block content.

With every major portal launching pop-up blocking services and customers expressing their displeasure with pop-ups, can’t we just bury this scourge now?

Think It Through

While I’m ranting, here’s why I think pop-ups are a bad move for advertisers:

  • Why associate yourself with the level of products and services that advertise with pop-ups? You’re known by the company you keep.

  • A pop-up is a forced opt-out; users have to click to close the unwanted ad. Didn’t we all agree to stop doing that with email?
  • Over 50 million users installed pop-up blockers. Doesn’t that say something?

I’m all for ingenuity and cleverness in pushing the boundaries of online creativity. But there’s a difference when customers have to install software or plug-ins to block unwanted messaging.

Perhaps I’m just dreaming that we can stop the insanity here and now. Think of the marketer whose main medium is the pop-up. If you told him to stop, could he do it cold turkey? After all, he’s paying a cheap CPM rate to spray the Internet in the hopes of a few hits. This logic is 180 degrees from the ultimate promise of online marketing — targetability.

Online Crack

Some marketers default to this tactic from plain laziness. What strategic thinking or careful tactical implementation goes into blasting 50 billion impressions a month across any site that will take them? Content relevancy? Who cares. Behavioral targeting? Don’t bother. Just plaster the monitor in every corner in an attempt to hit the numbers.

Let’s Plan the Funeral


The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Online Publishers Association (OPA) announce their members agree not to accept any more pop-ups.

The online agency community signs a pledge not to accept this kind of money from their clients.

Major marketers and agencies, via the American Associate of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), issue a final report that nails the coffin shut.

Talk about a powerful, consumer-focused message!

Folks, it’s time to move on. Bury pop-ups for good.

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