Study: Pop-Ups Not So Hated

Consumers might not know what they want, but it’s certainly not pop-up ads. All other things being equal, though, they’d rather see pop-ups than be pestered by telemarketers, according to a new survey by Dynamic Logic.

The survey, which asked a random sampling of more than 400 Web surfers to comment on which advertising types they preferred, found that users ranked pop-up ads on par with TV ads and direct mail. But those levels of favorability were 10 percent higher than the way consumers felt about telemarketers. (Billboard, radio, magazine and newspaper all scored about 3 to 5 percent better than pop-up ads.)

“The feeling that people hate pop-ups way more than they have TV ads is a mistake,” said Nick Nyhan, chief executive of New York-based Dynamic Logic. “I think people are stating to get used to the fact that interruptive or distracting advertising is going to be part of the Internet, just like in other media. And TV advertising is extremely interruptive and distracting — and you can’t click it closed.”

Indeed, other oft-derided online advertising models like the banner seem to be finding favor with consumers, who seem to prefer it to other models. More than half (53 percent) report a positive attitude toward the banner, which came in better than skyscrapers and large rectangle ads, scoring 35 percent and 17 percent favorability, respectively.

Not surprisingly, few (6 percent) had good things to say about pop-up ads, although full-page interstitials fared even worse — with only 3 percent of respondents saying they approved of the unit.

Still, 85 percent of respondents admitted that they realized that advertising was necessary for most free Web sites, even though the ad units they use might prove distracting. Also, about 72 percent of the consumers said they felt at least one pop-up ad per hour was appropriate to support the free Web site they like to visit.

The consensus among those surveyed, reached by averaging all responses, seemed to be that three per hour were acceptable, although 28 percent said they felt pop-ups weren’t appropriate at all.

Nyhan said the results suggest that consumers are viewing advertising on the Web — even pop-ups — like that of any other medium. If that’s the case, then the findings could suggest good things in store for the Web publishing and ad sales industry, which is competing against traditional media for greater mindshare among advertisers, and a greater share of their budgets.

“The results actually surprised me a little bit,” he said. “They may not love [pop-up advertising], but it’s interruptive, as a lot of advertising is. I think pop-up ads are finding a place in the Internet, and finding a place in people’s acceptance levels, and people are telling us they’re willing to accept a certain number of them within reason.

Still, Nyhan warned that the study didn’t address effectiveness, only consumer perception.

“Advertisers will tell you that sometimes, the most intrusive advertising is the most effective, because you can’t avoid it. But that doesn’t mean that’s what consumers want,” he said. “It’s important for the industry to find a balance between good advertising and advertising that’s so irritating that people go away. Consumers have needs and advertisers have needs, and ultimately, they need each other, and hopefully, the data provide light on where the balance might be.”

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