Pop-under ads fall short in increasing sales

As pop-under ads gain steam, they fall short of converting Web surfers into buyers, according to a new report released Wednesday.
Written by Gwendolyn Mariano, Contributor
As pop-under ads gain steam, they fall short of converting Web surfers into buyers, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Research firm Jupiter Media Metrix found that camera maker X10--which uses pervasive pop-under ads that automatically open a browser window linked to the site--had the most significant number of people that dropped out of its ad or Web site.

While X10 has achieved a mass reach online, with 32.8 percent of the Web's entire audience between January and May, 73 percent of its visitors left the pop-under window or site within 20 seconds, according to Jupiter.

The results, according to New York-based Jupiter, reveal that pop-under ads build brand awareness at the expense of brand affinity.

The report comes amid the wave of debate over pop-under and pop-up ads that have stirred the advertising community and Web measurement companies. While Jupiter initially defended its inclusion of pop-up and pop-under pages in its traffic numbers, its competitor Nielsen/NetRatings attempted to eliminate such counts from its results.

Marissa Gluck, senior analyst at Jupiter, said even though X10 ads are "ubiquitous" and are at a high frequency of exposure, they don't tell the whole story. She said the Internet is not that dissimilar to offline media in that consumer behavior shows that people react to such ads "just as they do with their TV remote control--they click away advertising they don't find relevant or entertaining".

The X10 ad is "not the widely successful campaign that it might appear to be," Gluck said. "The consumer is in control of the experience despite the best efforts of marketers to impose their will on consumers. Consumers are ultimately the ones in charge--they vote with their mouths, just like they vote with their remote."

X10 could not be immediately reached for comment.

X10 has been climbing Jupiter's US top 50 Web and digital media properties chart, moving up a notch from fifth place in May to fourth place in June. X10 had 28.6 million unique visitors in May and 34.2 million in June.

However, Jupiter said, without traffic from pop-unders, X10 would have only 2.7 million unique visitors. The site's number of engaged shoppers, meaning those who spend at least three minutes on a site, is 1.2 million.

The study compared six sites: X10, Amazon.com, eBay, Monster.com, Unicast and BizRate.com. While X10 had the most significant number of people dropping out of the ad or site, Unicast trailed with a 64 percent drop-off rate, and BizRate.com had a 37 percent drop-off rate.

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