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I am frequently "a customer". I hate them and ignore them. I judge them cheap and it impacts my perception of the site that imposes them on me. I think it cheapens the image of the site.
Ask yourself. How do you feel about them? Don't you find them annoying? Your customers dislike them too.
I've seen people browsing the web and they have 10-15 windows open and I'll ask them why. Their response is, I don't know, these windows keep popping up when I visit these sites and I don't know how to get rid of them (extreme cases).
There are many successfull sites that pop up pop-ups left and right.
I guess it depends on the nature of the site. I'd suppose users are less tolerant on smaller sites. I'd never recommend pop-ups for "serious" sites, which try to build trust in order to sell services, for example.
More of a gut feeling here - I'm sure some knowledgable folks will have a more profound saying on this.
I think it's not unlike e-mail campaigning: everybody's moaning and full of contempt in public. Only to go back to work running the next campaign, because ... it works. ;)
joined:Dec 9, 2001
For a different perspective, I've been testing a popup that invites people to subscribe to the site's newsletter. There's already signup boxes on most pages, but the popup really boosts the number of signups (three to five times more signups during the "on" weeks of the test).
The popup is small, fast-loading (no images; 1K of text) and served from the same site so there's no waiting for external connections. The popup has a logical reason to be there, and is cookied so visitors won't see it too often. My theory (might be wishful thinking!) is that those factors will keep it tolerable.
I haven't noticed any negative effects on sales, although I have to observe over a longer period before I can say that with confidence. Normal ups and downs would make a negative effect tricky to discern if there was one.
I'm cautiously starting to decide that the popup will be worth keeping.
joined:Apr 13, 2002
I recognize, however, not all business models and web sites are the same, and have become used to pop-ups. I don't mind them all that much.
Then again, I've also grown used to stinky derelicts at the bus stop, too.
In the example above, if you want visitors to sign up to your mailing list, why not just have a prominent link on your home page instead? Maybe popups get you more sign ups, but is the quality of sign-up going to be as high from people who were forced to view your ad than from those who volunteered the information themselves?
I consider popups and popunders to be theft of my bandwidth and CPU resources, mostly from companies who should know better, and any site that uses them goes down in my estimation 200%.
You don't see popups on google, do you? (not yet anyway ;))
And it hasn't exactly hurt their visitor numbers or visitor loyalty has it?
joined:Dec 9, 2001
If you're worried about "theft of your bandwidth", I invite you to consider that simply cleaning the spaces out of my source code on the main page saves more bandwidth than the popup takes. In general you'll lose a lot more bandwidth to bloated code than you will to my popups.
Regarding quality of signups: the topic of the page is an exact match for the topic of the newsletter so anyone interested enough to visit the page in the first place would be a reasonable prospect for the newsletter.
I don't quite get what you mean by the comment "force visitors to go to the page you want them to go to, regardless of their own preferences? "
One thing to keep in mind is the people that frequent this board are not casual surfers. We are mostly professionals that are tightly focused with what we do online, and it is usually technical in nature. We don't accept popups, and we generally despise them. That's not to say the general public doesn't hate them, but I feel they are more accustomed to them than we are, and popups are acceptable to some - especially on certain site topics.
You can always just give it a trial run. Uniques to pageviews before and after will tell you if it's running visitors off or not. Your visitors may even hammer you via email.
I would think a prominent placement of a professionally done animated gif somewhere immediately visible when the visitor is on the home page would be sufficient. If there are no other flashing, moving, distractive graphics, then the animated gif might be a viable alternative! Plus now you'll have another page of content to optimize!
The only way to know *anything* for sure out here is to do a series of small test runs. If your revenue or ROI increases, and you don't lose too many customers, maybe you have something that works in YOUR situation.
Losing some customers isn't necessarily the end, either...Here's an interesting thought another webmaster had in another forum; "So what if I lose visitors permanently, IF the visitors weren't contributing in any way to my bottom line?? That means less bandwidth wasted."
Seems harsh at first, but which would you rather have? 100,000 visitors with 1,000 that take action, or 10,000 with 5,000 that take action? I won't get into the downsides of that, but at some point the "free ride" does have to end: better that it doesn't end with you getting out of business.
Finally: Remember to never believe what a user SAYS they might or might not do, believe what ACTIONS they take. Make your test runs in several short series (unless its something that needs several repeats to the same client before they take action) to limit your potential "damage", and let us know if it works for your site or not.
I have so many sites which offer information which I do not make a cent off of. (that will change i tell you soon!) But Pop-up/under ads may work as long as its with the marketting scheme.
Depends on your market and crowds if its a site for technically savvy people like yourself they would go nuts if they saw a advertisement popping about, however its its a site that AOL users fresh on their computers go to they wont mind as much because they get the info for free.
The most obnoxious thing I've seen is these little popups that go way off the screen so they are not seen. These stick around and pop up windows occasionally.
Actually, even beyond obnoxious is the scumware that puts ads over other people's ads as you surf. These companies need to be closed down and the ownwers flogged.
Look, you want to advertise your product? Then make an honest ad which informs me of the value and cost of the product. A nice picture is fine, something moving (flash or java or gif) is fine to get my attention. Tell me to click if I want more data, then give me the data I need to make a decision to spend on your product.
Please don't use fancy fad ads - One major internet site used those for a while (and they may still be). They had terminals floating all over the screen. Even though their data was interesting, I no longer visit them. It was just too annoying - their ad was cute once, then annoying, and then beyond annoying.
As far as other kinds of popups, like to sign a guestbook, join a newsletter and such - I can tolerate just one per site, as I am leaving (not when I arrive or am surfing). That's actually fine with me - appreciated, sometimes, in fact, because I may have actually wanted to subscribe or sign the guestbook but didn't think of it or could not find the link.
Closing one popup that spawns another, that spawns another, etc. or multiple popups at once, is enough to annoy anyone.
The use of pop-unders is common today and most of the high traffic sites are using them so I strongly doubt that they have a significant negative impact on a site's traffic.
The personal preferences of people that are highly active on the Internet may be very different than the average user that may see two or three pop-unders a day.
Since when did advertising have that requirement? It's whether it's profitable for you that matters.
Effective ads(as in that which generates profit) are rarely 'likable'...Brand building ads are, but require capital available to effectively "waste" in hopes of future sales via brand recognition. If you've got the money to waste building brand, worry about what all of these "make your advertising so that it doesn't annoy me while I leech your free content" whiners have to say.
If you're looking for sales, do a test-run, as has already been suggested.
If you're pop-under involves redirection to a third party site, there is only one real requirement...Visit that site and make sure there's no pop-ups/unders on the page you're redirecting to.
You may only have 1 pop, but the site you're sending them to has 6...Your customers will blame/think you are the reason for the pop-up hell they're experiencing.
>>It's whether it's profitable for you that matters.
agreed, I admit that I detest popups but we had a "do our survey" popup that was cookie controlled to disappear once you filled it in and it was unbelievable the response we had. Most people filled it in. It was a very good way for us to get people to fill in the survey. We did it two years running when I was there and I am pretty sure they still do it. It makes a difference because it was only for a month and a half once a year but when used properly I think popups have their place.
On Jimstod's point:
>>But really, who cares if you, your your customers, or anyone here likes the method itself?
Nice to see you're staying in touch with and respect the people who pay your wages...
[edited by: igloo at 6:32 pm (utc) on June 11, 2002]
You've illustrated an excellent example...A large part of the effectivness of any online advertising method or technique essentially boils down to how well a Webmaster can determine the difference between "use" and "abuse".
First, the people who "pay my wages" are the people who click on the ads...Not the people who tell me how much they hate banners, pop-ups, etc., because it slows down their ability to increase my bandwidth bill while giving me nothing but a "thank you" in return.
Respect is a two-way street. Those who support my "free" (keep in mind that's free to them, not to me) content get the majority of my respect. The others get more opportunities to become "respected".
Second, if the visitor doesn't have enough money to buy a decent computer...I doubt they will be "paying my wages" anytime soon.
Third, I'm not in business online to become well-liked...I'm here to make money & will test/use any strategy which will help me achieve that goal...Provided the numbers prove it to be effective...not personal opinion, your opinion or that which is commonly perceived as 'fact' based on the experience or opinions of others.
Personally I don't mind popups/ popunders if they are related to the purpose of the site I am visiting.
The third-party popup ads I don't like, and I find them mildly annoying. I don't work myself into a frenzy over it though. Its just one more mouse click to zap it. No big deal to me.
I think popups that just shove an unrelated ad in the users face cheapen your site. I think that popups/popunders with an offer relevant to the site and what the user is looking for are fine.
Now I know I am biased because this is working for my business. I am curious as to what people's opinions are regarding newsletter popups and other offers relevant to why you went to that site.
Thus, an effective website communicates to it's audience and, oftentimes, the audience communicates back. An effective website is defined simply in a single sentence: it communicates well with it's intended audience. Period.
Now, if your intended audience is people who need a certain kind of widget, and you effectively get those people to purchase your widgets, then your website is a success.
It does not matter if the "non-target" audience doesn't get the communication (and hence does not purchase). They are not the target!
Now, folded into this equation is the matter of ethics. In order for a society to exist and it's members to prosper, rules are agreed upon for civilized conduct. Thus, you can expect that you can drive down the street without getting a rock through your window or a bullet in your back (at least in California). Civilized people have agreed that this is inappropriate behavior.
There is an even higher plain of ethics, where you decide to follow a code which is "higher" than that agreed upon by society. It is very interesting that there is a direct correlation between a person's ethics and his long term success. More ethical people tend to survive better than less ethical people (in the long term). I am not referring just to money here (although that is part of the equation). This is overall quality of life. While Howard Hughes certain was very rich, for example, I do not believe that in his last ten years anyone could claim he was happy - his final years struck me as miserable. He was highly unethical, and this caught up with him.
So the questions come down to: do you communicate effectively to your target audience, and do you present this communication in an ethical manner?
As an example, suppose you rnu an adult website. A person with ethics would not show adult pictures on the splash page, would require proof of age, and would advertise the site only to consenting adults. An unethical site might plaster hard core pictures everywhere without a care in the world, have weak protection against viewing by minors, spam everyone and embed every scum method of popping up, under, over and so forth that has been invented.
The unethical site might very well make money faster than the ethical site, but would these people be leading happy, productive lives? Or would they wind up eventually with their sites closed down, perhaps in prison, with their money seized and so on? Would they be able to live with themselves or would they consume vast amounts of alcohol and drugs to cover up the pain they were feeling for the pain they were giving out?
In this example, both sites do communicate (and well) with their target audience. The unethical part is the communication that spilled over to people who may not desire it or who may not be entitled to receive the communication (underage for example).
Another, more obvious statement, is that you don't want to scream fire in a crowded theater, unless, of course, there is indeed a fire.
Are popups, unders and so on unethical? It depends on how they are used. If popups are blended with the site well so that they help deliver the communication to the target audience, then they do serve a purpose. If they are controlled so they do not FORCE the communication upon people who do not desire it, then they are ethical.
In other words, if I visit your site I might expect to see one popup (or under) informing me of an opportunity or giving me some other communication. I should be able to close this without fear of additional popups opening up. The popup should be related to the site somehow (otherwise it is an interruption, which is considered rude in most conversations). Under some conditions (the ad for the camera which appears all over the place), I should be able to opt-out, and my privacy should be protected. There are certainly additional ethical considerations to be taken into account.
By being ethical and communication well, I am delivering my viewpoint to the target and not offending the non-targets. That means the non-targets may return at some time and become targets of the communiation. In addition, they are less likely to become offended or even become enemies.
That's my 2 cents (well, perhaps my quarter).