Pop-up Ads: Bad for Business

Everyone knows pop-up ads are bad for business-and now there's hard evidence to prove it, claims eWEEK Labs' Jim Rapoza.

If youre a company that uses Web-based advertising—either to promote products and services or to generate revenue—theres been good news and bad news lately. At the recent Reuters Technology, Media and Telecommunications Summit, Web marketing company DoubleClick discussed the increase in online advertising and predicted double-digit growth for next year.

Now, youd expect a company like DoubleClick, which is completely dependent on Web-based advertising, to paint a rosy picture of online ads. However, its predictions are in line with what we here at eWEEK have been seeing and hearing from readers and analysts. While things arent quite where they were during the dot-com boom, ads are doing very well. And because expectations are more realistic these days, one could make the argument that online advertising is doing better now than it was in the late-90s.

Study after study shows that people are spending more time online and less time focused on other media, such as television and magazines. When done right, an online advertisement is proving to be a worthwhile invesment.

Ah, but thats where the bad news comes in: Not all Web-based ads are created equal.

Hello, pop-up ads.

Its not news that pop-up ads are extremely annoying, which is why anti-pop-up utilities are always among the top downloads at software sites and why many ISPs now offer anti-pop-up tools to their users. But a recent study by consulting company Bunnyfoot Universality (at www.bunnyfoot.com/popup) shows that pop-up ads are a lot worse than extremely annoying—they actually create negative feelings in users who may have initially been potential customers.

What a great selling point! Imagine being a marketing whiz telling your bosses, "Ive got a great new advertising tool we can use. It will annoy and trouble customers so much that they will start to hate us and decide to never purchase or use our products and services."

Where do we sign up?

Next page: Users resent Web sites running the pop-up ads too.