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Is it time to write the obituary for pop-up ads yet?

Probably so, if new research is any indication. A recent experimental study conducted by The Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, surfaced “significant implications for a news industry that is constantly searching for new revenue models to finance journalism.”

“Banner and pop-up ads have been the standard way to advertise online for decades, though they have met consumer resistance, especially in mobile,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

What works better? Interestingly, scroll ads — which can also improve recall of the product being advertised and enhance trust in the article where the ad appears.

Some actionable takeaways from the experiment include:

  • More likely to recall the product accurately if it appears in a scroll ad than if it appears in either a pop-up or static ad. About 34 percent of users accurately recalled the product from the scroll ad versus 26 percent in static ads and 25 percent in pop-up ads.
  • People are no more likely to notice pop-up ads than they are scroll ads (61 percent vs. 62 percent for scroll) and are less likely to recall the product in pop-up ads, just 41 percent versus 55 percent in scroll ads and 53 percent in static ads.
  • Pop-up ads have several negative effects. For instance, 61 percent of people say pop-up ads make the article more difficult to read (vs. 37 percent for scroll ads and 19 percent for static ads).

“Scroll ads should play an even bigger role in online advertising because they appear to be more effective on a range of metrics than pop-up ads and static banners,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “These ads optimized for mobile produce benefits to the advertiser and the news outlet compared to older styles of digital advertising.”

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