Report: Pop-Under Ad Strategy Could Backfire

Pop-under advertisements — ads that appear in a separate window on a computer screen, then quickly move to the bottom of the screen — are ineffective at luring buyers to the advertiser’s site, Jupiter Media Metrix (Nasdaq: JMXI) said Thursday.

In fact, said Jupiter, advertisers that rely too heavily on the ads run therisk of turning off potential buyers as viewers begin ignoring them.

For example, electronics e-tailer X10.com has gotten itself onto the Media Metrix list of most visited Web sites through its use of pop-under ads for a wireless video camera.

Yet, despite the gain in traffic numbers seen by X10.com, 73 percent of the 28.6 million visitors to the X10.com Web site left it within 20 seconds, and just a fraction of those stayed three minutes or longer, according to the measurement firm.

The X10 Files

“Looking only at reach, it would appear that X10.com has deployed an incredibly successful campaign,” said Jupiter senior analyst Marissa Gluck.

“However, consumer behavior tells a different story,” Gluck said. “As advertisers becomeincreasingly intrusive online, consumers react just as they do with their TV remote control — they eliminate advertising they don’t find relevant or entertaining.”

Half.com — a subsidiary of online auctioneer eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), Real.com and Colonize.com have also seen traffic soar in recent months because of the use of pop-under ads, said Jupiter.

Traffic Not a Goal

Because the ads are a cheap and easy way to boost traffic statistics, other companiesare likely to begin using the technology — not necessarily to their benefit,Jupiter said.

“Mass, undifferentiated traffic should not be the end goalfor most marketers,” Jupiter cautioned. “Publishers willing to accept negotiated, performance-based pricing for pop-under ad campaigns could be entering into a losing deal.”

X10.com’s 73 percent drop-out rate is the steepest of all the pop-up advertisers, according to Jupiter analysts, who say the ads are turning off viewers by “inundating” them.

X10.com places no limit on the frequency of its ads, while other sites usually cap them at two per session, Jupiter said.

Format or Target?

“While pop-unders such as X10.com have achieved mass reach online, relevancy still matters more than format,” said Gluck. “The ubiquity of the X10.com ads, and consumers’ subsequent rejection of them, reinforces the notion that allowing consumers to exercise free will in their surfing and providing them with targeted, relevant offers are the keys to successful online marketing.”

Jupiter has been including traffic generated by the X10.com pop-under ads in its monthly traffic statistics, saying that as an objective measurement company, it has an obligation to report all traffic, regardless of content, purpose, or method of grabbing viewers.

6 Comments

  • I have started clicking pop-ups! I go to the "Contact Us" place, and send an email or find the online form, and paste the following: "Hello. This message is to let you know that I do not appreciate your rude, obnoxious, pop up ads. I will boycott every company that uses them!" By copying once, then pasting each time, I can respond to many pop-ups quickly! This at least makes me feel better as I continue to research pop-up blockers.

  • Hello! When I clicked on your “rules” link, nothing happened until I turned OFF my PopUp “killer” software! Is there any indication that software may be developed that will prevent the PopUnders from appearing? Thanks!

  • So annoying are these Ads that I downloaded a free software to block this nonsense and thus speed up my surfing. Software is AdSubtract SE. Perhaps these idiots will now stop this pointless Ad Spamming!

  • Amazing … it took a case study to determine that most people simply close the pop under window and never even look at what’s in it. I went to the x10 site and opted out of receiving the pop unders … now I’m in one of the target marketing groups that stayed less the 0 seconds!

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