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AOL bursts the bubble for pop-ups

Everybody hates them... and Netscape hopes to cash in on that loathing...
Written by Paul Festa, Contributor

Everybody hates them... and Netscape hopes to cash in on that loathing...

AOL Time Warner has released a version of its Netscape browser that lets web surfers suppress pop-up ads - potentially signalling the end of the road for the hated marketing format. Netscape's decision to offer pop-up blocking on version 7.01 comes as the advertising unit finds itself under siege by irate web surfers and web properties increasingly nervous about the format's intrusive use. AOL's popular proprietary online service recently revised its pop-up policies, ending sales of the format to third-party advertisers - a move AOL said would cost it $30m next year. Some web watchers said AOL's brave new stance will likely stoke a broad consumer backlash against pop-ups that could eventually lead more publishers to cut back on or abandon the format altogether. Jupiter analyst Michael Gartenberg said: "The pop-up ad is so negative right now that, over time, it will be all but gone from the landscape as advertisers work to find new and more palatable ways to get their message across to consumers." Although AOL is moving to distance itself from pop-ups, it's being cautious. Some researchers have identified the format as among the most effective marketing tools available on the web. Netscape 7.01 comes with the pop-up filtering off by default. Once enabled, the filter is preset to allow pop-ups on some sites, including several of AOL's own properties. AOL said users can alter those settings to block pop-ups on all sites, explaining that the exceptions were only selected to ensure a seamless web experience on certain popular sites that use pop-up windows to display important non-advertising information. Paul Festa writes for News.com
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