2.12.03

Death to the Pop-up Advert

Pop-up advertisements have thrived for years despite numerous efforts to eradicate them, but now online marketers are seriously wondering whether the web's most detested ad format is about to meet its match: Microsoft.

Microsoft seems poised to unleash the digital dogs of war on one of the most annoying elements of the online surfing experience. The software giant is considering adding a feature to the next version of Internet Explorer for Windows XP that gives users the option to block pop-ups. Currently 20% of all internet users use third party software to acheive this (I'm using the Google toolbar, for example). However, with Internet Explorer dominating the browser market with a 92 per cent share, the news could be the final nail in the coffin for the offending ads.

Pop-up advertisements came into vogue during the internet bubble, when online advertising couldn't bring home the bacon for net publishers. Publishers could serve as many pop-up windows as they wanted for pennies because they didn't take up any room on the page. There was an economic incentive to peddle more ads, too, because marketers paid based on how often web surfers responded to their pitches, or what's called "customer conversions." The more conversions, the more ad dollars.

As a result, marketers were drawn to pop-ups because they're economical and effective - they grab web surfers' attention like no other online ad. Pop-ups are 13 times more effective than banner ads that run the length of a page, according to research from Advertising.com published earlier this year.

But as the ads have caught on, web surfers have cried foul. A majority of internet users say the ads are disruptive to their surfing, according to surveys.

Although direct marketing firms such as online casinos and other less reputable brands are naturally worried about losing one of their most effective channels, major brand names will be less concerned as they've already been moving away from the format.

But what's the betting that the next big thing for online advertising won't come from the porn industry?

Because unless I'm wrong, (which, let's face it, won't be the first time) the technology behind pop-ups emerged from the seedier parts of the net.

So, with the greatest minds in pornography and marketing on the case, I'm sure it'll all be done in the best possible taste.....

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