From the November 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Pop-Up Culture

Pop-up ads are adored by marketers and despised by surfers. WebCrawler and iVillage have sworn off them. AOL has decided to limit them. Google has refused to use them in the first place. Pop-Up Stopper software is one of the most popular program downloads on the Net. Despite the high-profile defections from the ad form, don't expect a slowdown in intrusive Internet advertising from companies like X10 anytime soon.

Trimming pop-up ads from your Web site may be a smart customer relations move. Many Internet users will simply avoid Web pages that spawn too many ads. Customer concerns were a large motivation for the once pop-up-heavy AOL to drastically limit its pop-up diet. EarthLink has even worked a pop-up killer into its Internet connection software.

There are some compromise approaches that can still take advantage of the occasional pop-up without overly irking potential customers. Many sites use pop-ups only to advertise select special offers or surveys specifically related to the site.

It's also possible to simply limit the number of pop-ups any one surfer encounters while at your site. Pop-unders, pop-ups' slightly less-intrusive cousin, are increasingly common. Regardless, you need to weigh the advertising revenue or effectiveness of pop-ups against surfer discontent. Perhaps a pop-up survey of your site visitors will help you learn how they really feel about it.

Just a Minute

Masses of mobile minutes and free long-distance are the bane of traditional long-distance calling plans. More callers are neglecting their landline phones in favor of using their cellular time.

The way phone companies are reacting to this trend could change the look of your bills. Pay-per-minute is the first casualty in the battle for customers' calls.

AT&T, MCI and many smaller carriers have rolled out some form of unlimited long-distance plans that let you dial 'til you drop for one monthly fee. These first steps are aimed mostly at consumers, but businesses will see the same price structures become widely available.

Some independent carriers are already dangling this carrot in front of business customers. Remember, unlimited plans are logical only if you make a high volume of calls. LowerMyBills.com and SmartPrice.com can direct you to available options.