Recently one of Australia’s largest publishers has had pop-unders running across one of their ‘premium’ sites. This kind of activity not only cheapens the site and makes the publisher appear desperate for cash; it de-values their inventory from a media buyer’s perspective.
Publishers have fought for years to establish themselves as premium sites, selling quality traffic and a smart audience. By having pop-ups, pop-unders or indeed any of the dodgy practises that are common place on sites relating to pornography, piracy and gambling (not that I would ever go onto an unsavoury sight) these publishers place themselves in the same basket with regards to advertising. This desperation to make a buck now will seriously erode the value of the site in the long run and in a climate where people are flight to quality inventory. Never before has there been an online climate that requires such a balance between quality and quantity.
What makes no sense to me is the use of this type of inventory by advertisers. Its not only bad practise and makes you immediately fall into the annoying category usually preserved for pornographers, snake oil salesmen and human traffickers, it is also expensive. These sites are selling these pop-ups as ‘premium’ placements across ‘premium’ sites, however whatever supposed quality the contextual environment supplies the pre-existing negative connotations of these popup windows surely erodes. This effect flows onto those who have not made the mistake of using pop-ups. If, as an advertiser, I have paid a premium to be on a popular news site because I feel protected from clutter and want to be associated with a valued site and safe content I personally would not want ANY type of popup activity happening on the site and, should I decide to go with the site again I most certainly would not be paying the premium again.
In the long run the main damage a publisher does by running this type of placement is to its own integrity. It’s a shame to see an industry that has fought so hard to remove the connotations of spam and pop-ups that were seen as a major deterrent in the dot-com era take this giant leap backwards in the interest of a quick dollar. If publishers continue to make this backslide they will only see the value of their inventory drop dramatically over the coming months as advertisers and media buyers continue to look not only for quality inventory but for lower rates amid a diminishing market.