One company that considers pop-up ads a great technique is OneTravel.com, an East Greenville, Pennsylvania, travel Web site that was founded by president/CEO Michael Thomas in 1995. The company, which had sales of $100 million in 2001 and expects that figure to increase between 25 and 30 percent in 2002, regularly uses pop-up ads to cross-sell services on its site. After a consumer purchases a plane ticket, for instance, a pop-up will ask the consumer if he would like to purchase additional services, such as a hotel room or a rental car.
"Cross-selling is a wonderful way to use pop-up ads," says Thomas, 36. "When we bring a pop-up window up, we are helping the consumer think about something he might need that he may not have considered or thought about without the pop-up window."
Susan Jefferson, vice president of sales and marketing at OneTravel.com, says that the company sometimes purchases pop-up ads on other Web sites, but rarely places other companies' pop-up ads on its site. "Basically, we make our money by selling products, not advertising," she says. "We are trying to help somebody through a buying process, and if on page three of the buying process a pop-up ad from another company takes that person off-site, we've done ourselves a disservice."
One company that refuses to use pop-up ads in its advertising--or even have them pop up on its Web site--is Houghtaling's Garage in Middlebury Center, Pennsylvania, a family-owned business in continuous operation for almost 50 years. Now run by 46-year-old Kevin Houghtaling, the garage sells new and used farm, lawn and garden machinery. C.J. Houghtaling, Kevin's wife, was responsible for getting the company online and currently maintains its Web site (www.houghtalingsgarage.com). C.J. built the original site through Tripod.com, a free Web page provider from Terra Lycos. But because pop-up ads automatically come with free hosting services, she decided to switch to a different hosting company. "For us, it's worth it to pay for a service in order to have a nice, professional-looking Web site with no advertisements on it," says C.J., 45.
So will pop-up ads ever duck down? According to Buchwalter, although pop-up ads probably won't go away, over time they may change. "What will probably happen," he says, "is that an innovative ad agency will come up with the next iteration of these pop-up ads that may [retain] some of the more pleasant attributes, and they will be the next big thing."
Melissa Campanelli is a marketing and technology writer in Brooklyn, New York.