Pop-ups: Clickthroughs Outweigh Frustration

They're annoying. They're distracting. They're all over the web. And they're not going away. Pop-ups, aside from fueling consumer tempers, seem to produce enviable results for advertisers and that's why they're here to stay.

So argue those who make their living from selling things that go "pop," the most recent proponent being Kefta Inc., a company known for "conversion marketing solutions," which on Monday issued a press release highlighting its success with pop-ups as a means of boosting sales.

"Pop-ups, when used as a customer-centric communication method, are a valuable tool to both the consumer and the online marketer," said Philippe Suchet, CEO of Kefta. "A large number of our clients use personalized pop-ups in a highly successful way, not as a means to advertise unrelated products, but as a way to address shoppers' concerns and needs in order to improve their shopping experience."

According to Kefta, its pop-ups "dramatically reduce site dropouts and boost online revenues."

One of Kefta's clients, Société Générale (SG), 6th largest Euro Zone Bank, has successfully increased application rates between 20 and 30 percent and has been pleased with its pop-up effectiveness. Gwenaëlle Evenot, Senior Online Marketing Manager at SG, said she has been "amazed by the willingness of our customers to respond positively when we reach out to them." She added, "For example, SG has found that 12 to 25 percent of prospects that abandon respond to Kefta generated pop-ups. We thought using pop-ups might be a problem but it really hasn't been."

According to Kefta, pop-ups allow marketers to reach out to abandoners with "targeted, tailored solutions that are responsive to the abandoners' needs. Using a combination of techniques, including pop-ups, surveys, incentives, follow-up emails, and sales rep calls, these solutions enable marketers to gather contact information, understand specific customer issues, and follow up with prospects in a highly customer-centric fashion, based on where and why they dropped out."

Kefta claims that these techniques help their clients boost revenues by up to 30%, with completion rates is between 4% and 25% -- placing pop-ups well above many other well-known communication media.

Put in perspective, pop-ad ads make up just 3.5% of all US online ads in Q4 2002, based on impressions, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' latest numbers. That number, however, is a near-doubling of the previous year's figure, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, which also says that publishers served 13.4 billion pop-up ads in Q1 2003 (not counting house ads), a 24% increase from the previous quarter.

Moreover, a study from Unicast and Dynamic Logic found that a whopping 78% think pop-up, pop-under, and floating ads are annoying. Further research sponsored by Overture found that when US Internet users could choose only one online advertising issue that most concerned them, 35% cited pop ups. And most alarmingly, pop-ups lead all ad forms in levels of annoyance and distrust-97% feel "furious" or "angry" with pop-up ads that appear without warning, reports PlanetFeedback.

Why are pop-ups still popping? In a word: clickthroughs. A recent survey by Advertising.com says clickthroughs on pop-ups are nearly 13% higher than on banners (conversions are 14% higher) and with numbers like that, advertisers are willing to annoy.

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