Pop Ads By the Numbers

by    |    Apr 29, 2016    |       5 min read

Pop ads are not finished! Whether you think that pop ads are annoying or not and thus probably dead due to a rising number of AdBlock users, the numbers will show you otherwise.

Trying out various ways to monetize our websites leads us to experiment with special ways which we think will be more appealing to users. We can place pop ads into this category. We’ll give some basic differences between pop ads and also discover what their conversion rates are, we will bust some pop myths and learn more about the entire pop ad industry. Let’s dive in.

Pop-ups and pop-unders

Basically, the two pop ads are technically similar in nature, both open a window or tab (depending on the browser behavior). As the name implies the pop-up opens a new window in front of the web browser making it effectively the main window. On the other hand, the pop-under opens a new window beneath or under the currently active window.

This differing philosophy of the pop ads has spurred quite a discussion and quite some myths. We would warn that you take care of the capping when building these types of ads into sites which have a lot of visitors. Obviously this type of ads when frequent, can stretch the patience of the visitors as well as make you spend too much money on ads with which users don’t even want to interact with. Of course here, you can learn about the do’s and don’ts of pop advertising.

Pop ads myth-busting
  • Google penalizes usage of pop-unders – Google webmasters debunked this one, clearly stating that pop-unders can’t harm rankings in Google.
  • Sites using pop-unders have a higher bounce rate – Most of the visitors usually don’t mind the pop-unders since they are “low key” compared to pop-ups or flashy banner ads. More on this, here.
  • Visitors will get malware through pop ads – Though malware is an online-wide issue, ad formats and ad networks are rarely, if ever, the starting point of malware.
  • You can’t use pop ads and AdSense – There are certain limitations as per Google Ad Placement Policy. However, using both pop ads and AdSense can ensure that you get great results by combining these two approaches.  Stick to no more than three pop ads, though.
  • Pop ads are used by sites of lower quality and morality – We must remind ourselves that reputable companies, which care about their reputation use pop ads. The best examples of utilizing pop ads in a high paying niche can be seen with companies in the accommodation niche. These companies would utilize pop ads to present relevant accommodation offers. 
Pop ads stats

Not all ads are created equal, and for pop ads this goes without saying. The goal of the pop ad is for someone to see it and to take action based on the information that is displayed in the ad. This however happens in 3.09% of times since this is the average conversion rate of pop ads. The top pop ads have a conversion rate of 9.28% but only 3 out of 100 people have these type of ads.

pop ad stats

Image source: SumoMe

Make no mistake, there are pop ads which have an astronomical conversion rate of 50.2% but to reach that level you must gather experience and benchmark a lot of different ads and ad types.

Though users tend to report that pop ads are annoying and do not improve their user experience, if applied properly, they’re quite effective. Copyblogger used pop-up ads in an innovative way, giving out free products or services which helped him improve e-mail opt-ins. Additionally, Enterprenuer.com used pop-up ads to increase sales by over 150% and subscription by over 80%.

Ad display spending is finally being larger than search engine spending and projected growth of investment in digital advertising will help us keep our eyes on the prize going forward, and when deciding where most money will go towards. Around $37.2 billion is projected to be invested in digital ads in 2017. Of that number, the largest investment will go towards something called “banners and other”. Though this term has a loose definition, we can certainly state that pop-ads are included under this umbrella term. One out of every five dollars invested in digital advertising will go towards “banners and ads” display.

Bursting the pop ads annoyance bubble

Various studies claim that pop ads are among the least favorite ads you can come across. However, our intuition, as well as some of the numbers above, tells us otherwise. Namely, persuasion tactics play a big role in how you are being perceived by your users, therefore the tools in your marketing toolbox need to be used carefully. Invading someone’s mailbox or home is inappropriate. But users that watch TV claim that ads are part of the watching experience and to be expected, pop ads are like television ads more than screaming banner ads or print ads. Perhaps that is the reason why they have better conversion rates than banner and another type of digital ads.

Level of annoyance, which in turn will help you or hinder you, depends on the context and time the ad is being served. When browsing for information, a pop-up ad might overwhelm the user and thus they might end up going elsewhere. A pop-under ad utilized here could be the saving principle. On the other hand, browsing content sites which have pop-up ads which further deepen, but also interrupt the browsing experience, may cause users to stay longer on the site.

In the end

When deciding to go with pop-ups or pop-unders on your site, you should keep in mind the user experience. The testing phase is inevitable with detailed evaluation of the results before the final decision to go for pop ads is reached. Be wary of interrupting the user experience, since it can be a sensitive topic. Make sure that the interruptions are offering relevant, useful content. Using pop ads correctly can increase conversions while annoying your users may end your relationship with them forever.