Commentary

A Pop-Up to Kill all Pop-Ups?

The ad market is getting better, right?

Perhaps, but the brutal nature of the slowdown still seems to be bringing out the worst in some folks. In many cases, we continue to struggle with the same cannibalistic, survivalist attitude that's been prevalent for the last 18 months.

And if we accept that our current marketplace is indeed a game of Survivor, I think it's time to start voting folks off the island.

My nomination is the clan over at BlazingLogic (also known under various clever names like TwistedHumor.com, RankYou.com, Lion's Pride Enterprises, and Sex-e-Bits.com).

On March 28, a story flew across the wires declaring "BlazingLogic gives POWER to Internet users via NoPop!" The release goes on to describe how Blazing Logic's new product (NoPop!) would "empower" internet users to eliminate "annoying and intrusive" pop-ups. This, of course is a concept that is neither original nor particularly threatening to marketers using pop-up/pop-under media.

A horde of freeware utilities offering the same features have been around for over a year and have had marginal impact. But Blazing Logic insists that there is an incredible opportunity in selling a product that eliminates those pesky pop-ups for the low, low price of $19.95 (plus a small monthly maintenance fee).

The press release becomes more interesting when viewed in the context of who BlazingLogic really is. These same people (under the TwistedHumor.com/RankYou.com name) have been extremely active buying up online media at "distressed" rates for a long time. Their current favorite form of online media to purchase? You guessed it: pops.

I've seen contracts from RankYou.com for millions of pop-unders per month come across my desk. Their pops promote various software products cranked out by their Blazing Logic division -- including one called SpicyComet that allows people to illegally copy DVDs on their PCs.

Of course, they also promote their popup killer software in the pop-ups.

Did you catch that? These guys are BUYING pop-ups to promote their product that KILLS pop-ups. What web publisher would agree to run such a campaign?

The story gets even scarier when you read a bit deeper into that March 28 press release. Buried in the fifth paragraph is this little gem: "NoPop! also sends regular global updates while automatically upgrading the application". Sounds a bit like nascent Spyware to me.

So now, Blazing Logic, a well-known and aggressive online marketer, is taking control of users' surfing experience and opening the door to all kinds of future activities meant to "benefit" and "empower" those users.

Who gets to decide what that user wants? Just a hypothetical here, but could Blazing Logic engineer their NoPop! product to work for all pop-ups/pop-unders except their own? Of course they could.

Now, I don't really know the people at Blazing Logic personally. I have no inside knowledge that would lead me to conclude that there is any ill-intent in all of this. But one has to wonder how desperate the times are when a company which leans so heavily on "aggressive and intrusive" online promotion would begin to promote a product whose apparent goal is to destroy that market.

I guess the bottom line is I can't see how this is a long-term winner for Blazing Logic, and I'm at a loss to find anyone who comes out ahead in the end. Picture yourself as the average Joe or Jane Internet user. Do you really want the publisher of Sex-e-Bits.com ("The Most Read Online Sex Magazine on the Internet Today") to control what online advertising forms you see?

Picture yourself as the average Joe or Jane website publisher. Do you really want to run pop-under campaigns for a company promoting NoPop! software?

Picture yourself as the average Joe or Jane marketer. Do you trust your marketing dollars with these folks?

I say it's time for a Tribal Council. Time to throw some cold water on that Blazing Logic.

Scott Brew is President & CEO of Adtegrity.com, an online advertising network and marketing services firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. He can be reached at scott@adtegrity.com.

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