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Pop-ups: Unpopular, but effective

You say you don't like 'em, but you keep clicking on 'em...
Written by Margaret Kane, Contributor

You say you don't like 'em, but you keep clicking on 'em...

Pop-up ads seem to be the internet equivalent of the tabloids: everyone claims to hate them, but somebody keeps reading. According to a study conducted by GartnerG2, 78 per cent of respondents claimed they found pop-up ads "very annoying." In contrast, only 49 per cent of participants applied the same rating to banner ads. Yet pop-ups had click-through rates almost twice as high as those of banner ads, meaning they're probably going to stick around for a while. Indeed, Nielsen/NetRatings' online-advertising rating, AdRelevance, found that pop-up impressions jumped from 1.2 billion to 4.9 billion between January 2002 and September 2002. And companies are looking for ways to make pop-ups perform better. One new type of ad clicks through to the advertiser's site even if web surfers simply move their mouse over the advert (fear not: silicon has no plans to introduce these. Although our commercial people would probably be keen for us to say that we won't rule anything out...) But there may be some relief on the way. Several companies have decided that no matter what the possible gains, the possibility of annoying customers makes pop-ups a risk. Sites including iVillage and Ask Jeeves have banished the ads, and browser companies and internet service providers have released technology to block them. And as consumers get more annoyed with the ads - and more used to them - their effectiveness should wane, Gartner analyst Denise Garcia said. "Current click-through rates are inflated because many internet users are not familiar with how to close the pop-up window," Garcia said in the Gartner report. "The rates will decrease as users gain experience." Margaret Kane writes for News.com
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