you are the 1,000,000th visitor to our Web site!” says the balloon-filled
window box that appears on your screen every time you go to
that one particular Web site. Maybe you try to mentally tune
out pop-up Web ads, or have been so annoyed with the continuous
interruptions that you physically blocked them by changing your
Web browser preferences.
With a potential Internet audience approaching 1 billion,
online advertising is only going to get more pervasive and if
your company has a Web site – informational or e-commerce –
new research from the Smith School marketing department is about
to change your online marketing strategy.
This groundbreaking new research tells us that a well-timed
pop-up Web promotion can in fact enhance a user’s Web experience
and encourage a longer visit. Impossible?
Wendy Moe, assistant
professor of marketing, says, “Contrary to popular belief that
pop-ups are at best ineffective (because of the low click-through
rates) and annoying at worse, there are positive indirect effects
that may be underestimated.”
conducted a large-scale field experiment at a high-traffic movie
review Web site where the timing and placement of interstitial
promotions being offered was varied. Interstitial promotions—or
pop-up messages, pop-under messages, bridge pages, and in-page
animations—are designed to attract attention and interrupt the
user’s experience at the Web site.
Obviously a Web user will be interrupted by a pop-up ad,
but what is the perception of that interruption? Did the user
see the pop-up ad on a gateway (navigational page with links)
or content page? Was the pop-up immediately on the screen, or
was there a delay in its appearance? Did the user click on it?
“There are two reasons why seeing a pop-up ad would make
a user visit more pages on a Web site,” says Moe. “First, individuals
become more involved when faced with an interruption that is
on a lower-level content page, and second, the pop-up is less
likely to be perceived as an interruption, thereby avoiding
any of the negative reactions that arise from being interrupted.”
encourages experimentation and customization of online advertising
to make it more positively received. “Find out what is right
for your site. If someone is shopping and searching and they
are interrupted, they will be distracted. But if the ad helps
them, they will stay longer,” says Moe.
Since more people are utilizing pop-up blockers, advertisers
are going to get more creative. “Pop-up ads may disappear,”
says Moe, “but advertisers are just going to get more creative
and find new ways to interrupt the user within the Web page.”
Before, little research had been conducted to explore the
effect of pop-up promotions beyond simply looking at click-through
rates, says Moe. “Not enough companies do online experimentation
and this project could be the blueprint for similar research.
Additional research in this area would improve our understanding
of how individuals respond to promotional interruptions and
help marketers design more effective promotional tactics.”