I’m getting involved in a debate on the uk-netmarketing email list on the value (or otherwise) of web page popups. Another of the people in the discussion works for Eyeconomy who I’ve mentioned before.
Like all people I’ve discussed it with, I hate unrequested popups on web pages. When one appears I close it down immediately without reading it. Proponents of popups point to data proving how much more effective they are than plain banner ads. I say that this just proves that it’s impossible to underestimate the intelligence of the average web user :)
So we have a situation where most web surfers still see popups as an unavoidable annoyance on the web. About 90% of surfers still use Internet Explorer and I suspect it’s a very small percentage of those who have installed any kind of popup blocker. These are the people who are still providing data which encourages the use of popups.
But there is another (smaller) group of people. These are the people who have installed a decent browser that has a built-in popup blocker. Or have installed popup blocking extensions for their browser. These people know that they don’t like popups and have taken the decision to do something about them.
This action annoys the people who use popups. Popup blocking is, they think, attacking their livelihood. Less people are seeing their popups and therefore they are making less money. So they devote time and energy to writing “super-popups” that get past the popup blockers. And in many cases they succeed.
But I think that they are missing a fundamental point. The people with popup blockers installed have, as I said above, taken the conscious decision that they don’t want to see popups. Before installing a popup blocker they saw popups as an annoyance. Now, if they see popups they are very likely to get far more pissed off as someone has overidden their choice. These people didn’t like popups before (that’s why they installed popup blocking software). They were never going to click one the adverts. Why waste time and energy developing these super-popups when they are only going to further annoy people who already disliked popups?
But I don’t think that this kind of logic has any chance of working with these marketeers. I think that our only hope is to convince their clients that using super-popups is doing nothing but annoying people. I’ve now decided that every time I come across site that serves me super-popups through my popup blocker, I’ll email the webmaster explaining what has happened and telling them that I won’t be using their site again. I’d encourage you to do the same. Maybe if enough of us tell them then the message will start to get through.