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The Truth About Pop-ups

by Dale King

Unless you've been living in a cave, during the Internet revolution, you've no doubt encountered pop-ups.

What are pop-ups?

Pop-up ads or pop-ups are a form of online advertising intended to increase web traffic or capture email addresses.

Here's how pop-ups work:

When certain web sites open a new web browser window to display advertisements, the pop-up window containing an advertisement is usually generated by JavaScript, but can be generated by other means as well.

A variation on the pop-up window is the pop-under advertisement. This opens a new browser window, behind the active window. Pop-unders are less intrusive, and are not seen until the desired windows are closed, making it more difficult for the Internet user to determine which website opened them.

How did pop-ups originate?

In the early days of the World Wide Web, banner ads were the most popular revenue generators. However, in the wake of the dot-com crash, prices paid for banner advertising click-thru's plummeted and banner advertising lost most of its appeal and effectiveness.

As a result, many marketers began to investigate more effective advertising methods. Pop-up ads by their very nature are difficult to ignore or overlook.

In fact, pop-up ads are much more effective than the original banner ads - up to a 15% click-thru rate, compared to .3% for banner ads. Even pop-under ads have a click-thru rate of 6.5% (Source: New Architect, Feb. 2003).

However, all of the economic advantages of using pop-ups notwithstanding, I personally refuse to use pop-ups on my website.

Why? Two reasons:

1. Just because a marketing method is proven to be effective, doesn't mean you should necessarily use it. You also have a moral obligation.

2. I hate pop-ups. I think they're both annoying and intrusive.

I also think businesses that use pop-ups are exhibiting a blatant disrespect towards the very people they depend on for their livelihood.

Besides that, many people just don't like pop-ups - too many to ignore in my opinion.

This is evident by the huge number of pop-up blockers available both commercially and for free.

In addition, many of these types of ads have scripts in them that can crash browsers.

Can pop-ups be effectively blocked?

Unfortunately, the DHTML approach of creating pop-ups is harder to block than the pure Javascript method, as DHTML is an integral part of a modern web-browser. However, even DHTML pop-ups are blockable.

One of the best and most popular ways to block pop-ups is to use an add-in toolbar for Internet Explorer for Windows. The Internet Explorer 6 (with Windows XP SP2), Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Opera and Safari browsers all have built-in pop-up blockers.

In closing, don't jeopardize potential sales by using tricks, gimmicks or tactics that will anger, frustrate or insult potential customers. In the end, it's just not worth it!

Discuss this in our Forum

About the Author:

Dale King is the owner of the new Internet Marketing website,

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