Building Brand Awareness At The Expense Of Brand Affinity
Jupiter analysts caution marketers planning to ride the pop-under wave because in the end, the strategy is dependent on cheap and limitless inventory - a market condition they believe will disappear at high-traffic sites within 6 to 9 months.
"Looking only at reach, it would appear that x10.com has deployed an incredibly successful campaign," said Marissa Gluck, senior analyst, Jupiter Media Metrix. "However, consumer behavior tells a different story. As advertisers become increasingly intrusive online, consumers react just as they do with their TV remote control - they eliminate advertising they don't find relevant or entertaining. That's what's happening with x10.com."
Between April 2001 and May 2001, x10.com's Web reach almost doubled - rising from 17.5% to 32.8%. At the end of May, x10.com had more than 28 million unique visitors. Other companies that deployed the pop-up and pop-under ads, such as Half.com, Real.com and Colonize.com also experienced a significant increase in unique visitors. With inventory cheap and plentiful online, Jupiter analysts expect to see other advertisers employ similar methods to boost site traffic. However, mass, undifferentiated traffic should not be the end goal for most marketers.
Despite its reach, x10.com faces the steepest decline in unique visitors over time (73%). Even pop-ups from BizRate.com and Unicast Superstitials face much lower drop-off rates - 37% and 64% respectively. Jupiter analysts attribute x10.com's sharp unique visitor drop-off in part to the frequency with which their pop-under ads appear. While sites that employ pop-ups usually have a frequency cap of two ads per user per session, x10.com places no limit on frequency, thus inundating consumers with ads.
According to Jupiter analysts, publishers willing to accept negotiated performance-based pricing for pop-under ad campaigns could be entering into a losing deal. A closer look at the Media Metrix ratings data reveals that without traffic from their pop-unders, x10.com would have 2.7 million unique visitors. The site's number of engaged shoppers (i.e. visitors who spend at least three minutes on a site) is 1.2 million, which produces a conversion rate of only 4.2%.
"While pop-unders such as x10.com have achieved mass reach online, relevancy still matters more than format," Gluck said. "The ubiquity of the x10.com ads, and consumers' subsequent rejection of them, reinforces the notion that allowing consumers to exercise free will in their surfing and providing them with targeted, relevant offers are the keys to successful online marketing."