This is the kind of photo you can expect when my brain is still sweetly humming from Valentine’s Day and it’s time to think about annoying marketing tools like pop-up windows.
Can you be involved in marketing and not be the devil? I’m still trying to figure out the answer to this question.
In the earliest days of the Internet, I could barely sleep at night. There was an energizing spirit of freely sharing knowledge. My mind was in overdrive thinking of all we could accomplish by circulating our information and assimilating it quickly. My university program was late to understand the technology and therefore optimize my degree. I mined the collective brains online and learned as much as I could. (Young imaginary friends, you control how much of an education you receive. It’s in direct proportion to your effort, will, and initiative. That’s not a lecture: it’s empowerment. You want to know something, dive in and dig.) This led to creating web sites for companies that didn’t have them. Most brick and mortar businesses needed help understanding that an online presence could be more than a colorful, digital brochure.
In those days, while dodging pterodactyls, a lot of people were just beginning to think about how they could make money online. Banner ads became the product du jour. Eventually folks just ignored the top part of their browser window. Then some genius thought of pop-up ads and interstitials. Interstitials are similar to pop-ups in that they interrupt your online experience and force you to acknowledge something before you get what you really want. (It’s giving you just a granule of sugar then forcing their medicine down in the most un-delightful way.) We advised against using those methods. They were like PR poison. In fact, that’s why today’s browsers have an option to block pop-up ads. People hated them so much, another genius found a way to program around them. (Find a need and fill it, indeed!) If you happen to be a genius, please do it for mobile sites. For me, it’s a game of “how fast can I find the x and remove this thing from my face?!” (That’s not a catchy game title. It needs work.)
Yes, those screens are back in full force — especially on mobile sites. It’s Monday so here comes the sarcasm: I just LOVE it when your mobile site has some ad that launches my App Store and drives me off your site completely. LOVE IT. Did you know that I can’t get back to your site when you use those? Did you know that I no longer want to visit your site? It may not be a virus but it *feels* like a virus. I know it isn’t but a lot of people have no idea what’s going on. Perception is our reality and your lost traffic. If I *really* want something that you have to offer, I’ll have to grab the lap top and fire that up. That’s only going to happen IF I’m near a laptop right at that moment and super compelled OR if I can remember to deal with it later on a computer. (Not likely since I can’t remember what I just did with my car keys. Yes, there’s an app for that, I know. I know.) That’s quite a few hurdles between me and the sale that you want me to complete. If you aren’t selling anything to me, and placing these on your site is the source of your income, you may see your number of visitors and visits decline. In sales, I remember someone saying the “Be Back” bus never comes back. Sometimes it does, but I think it’s far easier to make money if you don’t damage your brand. I used the bird attack imagery above because that’s the instinct when something irritating comes at you: wince, duck your head and wave it away with your hand while getting away from it as fast as you can. This is not really the online experience you desire for your potential customer.
It’s just one of many things that drive people away. I bet you can think of others! Comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org