Interstitial adverts deliver increased CTRs

Pop up adverts are growing in popularity. For instance, analysts at Nielsen//NetRatings report that online advertisers generated 11.3 billion impressions with such ads in the first seven months of this year alone.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  September 24, 2002

|~||~||~|Since their emergence in early 2001, pop up adverts — those that launch themselves in a new web browser without user input — have grown in popularity. According to analysts at Nielsen//NetRatings, online advertisers generated 11.3 billion impressions with such ads in the first seven months of this year alone.

Pop up adverts are also becoming more common in the Middle East. Companies including MMI, Emirates and ITP have all run pop up campaigns with impressive responses. MMI achieved a click through rate (CTR) of 10.39% on timeout-dubai.com, while ITP Live garnered a CTR of 10.15% with adverts for its Dina Carroll concert on the same site.

“Pop ups are a great mechanism when effectively developed and placed. They provide a great opportunity for data capture and can contribute a great deal to a campaign,” says Lee Brett of online marketing company, Impact Proximity.

However, despite these impressive statistics, pop up adverts account for only 9.2% of all online ads. One reason for this is the targeted nature of the medium. Nielsen//NetRatings, for instance, reports that only 13% of pop up adverts were used to build brand awareness, while 58% were used to drive traffic to a particular web site.

Another reason for their limited distribution is the negative feedback many internet users give them. As they are launched without a web surfers permission, pop up ads disturb a user’s experience and detract from the site they are trying to view.

“It is often the case that this creative media tool is badly utilised... This can be annoying and can create negative feelings toward the brand and the site,” confirms Brett.

However, such concerns appear unlikely to prevent those advertisers already using the format from continuing to do so. “Despite consumers’ general distaste for the ads, a few advertisers clearly view the benefits of pop up advertising as greater than the potential harm to brand image,” says Charles Buchwalter, vice president of client analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings.

Brett suggests that a clearly marked ‘close’ button can help alleviate user irritation, however, it is an option used by very few advertisers.

“It sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many advertisers miss this out. As a result, they are presented with a frustrated user who is both antagonised by [the] site and brand alike,” he says.

The development of new mediums, such as Eyeblaster ads, means that advertisers are destined to carry on interrupting web surfers’ browsing. Unlike pop ups, which only cover part of a site, Eyeblasters take control of the entire web page for a number of seconds. The fact that a user can do very little about them means that Eyeblasters generate exceptional CTRs.

For example, earlier in the year Emirates Airlines’ loyalty programme, Skywards, ran an Eyeblaster campaign on a number of local and international sites, including itp.net and times.co.uk. The latter generated a CTR of 31.5% while even a high value audience site, such as itp.net, garnered a rate of 11%.

“If you look at banners versus Eyeblasters there is no comparison. The latter provides click throughs in excess of 30 times that of a standard banner,” says Brett.

Despite the extra cost incurred in designing and distributing Eyeblasters — production charges are higher as designers have a number of intricate elements to integrate and third party hosting and distribution costs are involved — it appears as though the use of interstitial ads will continue to bloom.

“This higher investment is more than offset by the click though rates achieved, [which makes] them more cost effective,” comments Brett.||**||

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