iVillage banishes pop-up ads

The publishing company dumps the format after a survey finds that more than 95 percent of its readers see the ads as the "most frustrating feature of the Web."

iVillage is getting rid of pop-up ads, the publishing company said Monday, after a survey found that more than 95 percent of its readers considered them to be the "most frustrating feature of the Web."

"We have built iVillage by listening to what women want, and our move to eliminate pop-up advertising is a direct example of this," Nancy Evans, co-founder of iVillage, said in a release.

Some pop-up ads will continue to appear on the site, but will be primarily related to research and in-house subscription offerings. Their appearance will be "minimal," accounting for less than 1 percent of all ads on the site, iVillage said.

Instead, the company will focus on alternative ad formats, including variably sized standard ad units and pop-under ads, as well as ad placements in newsletters and member mailings.

Pop-up ads, which launch in a separate browser window on top of the main window when a reader visits the advertising site, have become increasingly popular, as the Internet ad market has soured. They're used by such mainstream publishers as The New York Times and prominent Web sites such as Yahoo.

But the ads have largely been an annoyance to consumers, and a market for so-called pop-up blocking software has also sprung up. Pop-ups may not even be all that effective, said Christopher M. Kelley, an analyst at Forrester Research. Ads with video or sound were more likely to draw their attention, he said.

"They don't interrupt as a pop-up ad does, I don't have to wait for the page, and it doesn't make the page load slowly," he said. iVillage isn't the first company to move away from pop-ups. In January, Google.com posted a notice to users of its site that pop-ups were "annoying" and unwelcome at its site, adding that if people saw any when they went to the search engine, it was likely the result of a third-party application.

Others, however, continue to move on the pop-up arena.

"We feel that pop-ups and pop-unders do serve a purpose. There are definitely clients out there who like them and use them," said Dan Silmore, director of marketing at CBS MarketWatch. "We've been sold out for those types of units throughout the year, but we do try to maintain a minimum of all types of ads on the site. The key to this is to maintain some sort of cap as how intrusive it can be."

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