March 21, 2014 Last Updated 5:47 am

This too share pass: pop-up ads make a return, annoying and driving away readers

It is hard to believe we are living through this again: the return of the pop-up ad. Sites, especially media sites, desperate to find a way to drive ad revenue, are sorting back to the scourge of the early days of Internet advertising, the pop-up.


Recent cartoon from Tom Fishburne

Websites from The Washington Post to TalkingPointsMemo are allowing pop up ads to appear on their site in increasing numbers, and readers are noticing and complaining, just as they did a decade ago.

For the past decade most pop up ads have been used mostly on sites considered not for work friendly. But they have returned with a vengeance. Combined with junk content web traffic attractors like Taboola, many sites now look much as they did in the early ’90s.

The trend is occurring as ad agencies demand better positioning and better engagement from the ads placed on publisher websites. The “takeover” ad has evolved from simply larger real estate to huge banners and pop-ups. The fact readers are noticing is not as bad as the fact that many of these ads are so poorly developed that they tend to freeze browsers, forcing readers to exit a website.

Like all trends, this, too, will end at some point. The dollars gained will be offset by the web traffic lost. A lesson many publishers learned a decade ago, but one guesses will have to be learned once again.

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