Pop off

There’s a great article in today’s FT Creative Business supplement (print only) outlining why online advertisers are starting to ditch formats that just annoy users. And popup ads are so annoying that AOL will be removing them from new versions of their software. Except it will still pop up its own ‘alerts’ and ‘special offers’; an interesting decision given that consumer research (in this case by Yahoo!) illustrates [pop-ups] have a detrimental brand effect. In fact one quote goes as far as to say:

Pop-ups were always the home of lazy creative and media-planning strategies.

And pop-unders are even more evil, along with interstitial full page ads and full page transparent Flash animations (they’re a bit more innovative & creative, but none-the-less intrusive). It’s no coincidence that Mozilla has a feature specifically aimed at turning off unsolicited windows (Advanced > Scripts & Plugins).

The article goes on to highlight other approaches to Internet advertising, including the hugely successful BMW short films campaign starring Clive Owen; they also happen to be the first fully accessible films online. In terms of advertising on content sites, an interesting approach is to use sessions where a visitor will only see ads from one advertiser. This empowers the advertiser to present ads in a narrative sequence, as demonstrated (usually badly) by sponsors of individual television programmes.

I think it’s fair to say that Internet advertising is here to stay (we accept it in all other media) so let’s hope advertising agencies will accelerate the trend away from intrusive ads and concentrate their energies on more positive methods of engaging our attention.