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Firm launches pop-up ad network

The network, created by MicroSmarts Innovative Business Solutions, is designed to work similarly to banner ad exchanges.

Though many Net users hate them, pop-up ads are growing in popularity among advertisers who are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to bring attention to their products.

Today, one company announced that it is launching an advertising network just for people who want to display--and share--pop-up ads.

The network, called Pop-up Exchange, is designed to work similarly to the banner ad exchange program LinkExchange. People who join the network agree to display ads in exchange for their ads getting displayed on other member pages, said Bernard Ferguson, chief executive of MicroSmarts Innovative Business Solutions, which created the network.

But because the exchange is a one-for-two--for every two ads a member displays, he or she gets one displayed--the company can sell advertising to outsiders and make money.

While the concept of ad-exchange programs is well established, advertisers mostly have stuck with tried-and-true banner ads.

Ferguson, however, is hoping to push pop-ups--ads that open up in a different browser window--to the masses. The ads his network designs also have multimedia capabilities, such as sound, using Javascript.

And they have one more feature not seen on other networks, such as community builder sites GeoCities, TheGlobe, and Tripod.

Ads displayed through Pop-up Exchange can supersede all other computer activities until the user responds. Users have the immediate ability to close a box or to click "No thank you." But ads on the network can be configured so that the user cannot simply ignore them.

In that way, the ads more closely resemble pop-up ads on online giant America Online, which delivers messages to members via pop-ups and often won't allow them to continue surfing until they respond. But ads on Ferguson's network can go even a step further. For instance, if one clicks on the Web page, a pop-up ad will be displayed and will not go away, even when a user toggles to a different program, until the user responds.

Although Ferguson said Webmasters can control that capability, he noted that is the kind of interactivity that makes pop-up ads so attractive to advertisers.

"It's designed for the advertiser's benefit," he said. "The consumer sees it one time. They can either click on it or click on 'No thank you,'" he said.

Ferguson said he realizes there is a high annoyance factor when it comes to pop-up ads, but he pointed out that when banner ads first were introduced, Netizens also complained. He added, however, that his company is trying to minimize annoyance by making ads show up only once per session and also by creating pop-ups that will load in the background while the designated page is loading.

"Some people feel banners are annoying," he said. "Some people feel TV commercials are annoying. I feel the Internet is going to become commercialized and there's nothing that can be done to stop it. What corporations can do is minimize the annoyance."