What is Pop-Up Advertising?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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Pop-up advertising refers to online ads that display in a separate window on top of a webpage. One or more pop-ups can appear when a page is loaded, obscuring view of the website and garnering the surfer’s attention. Pop-up advertising is one way a website can earn money.

Pop-up advertising is typically served from a third-party site and is often based on website content, serving ads the marketer hopes the reader will be interested in. Clicking on the ad will take the surfer to another website where the advertised product or service is marketed and can be purchased.

There are several types of contracts a website might have with an advertising agent for compensation through pop-up advertising. A website might be compensated by impressions (page views) that don’t require click-through traffic. As an example, a website might earn anywhere from a few pennies to a few US Dollars (USD) or more for every 1,000 impressions or unique page views. Click-through traffic can earn a higher amount. The exact amount of money earned widely varies and depends on many factors.

Some websites opt to be affiliates of certain products or services. The site will host pop-ups or other forms of advertising, but payment is based solely on commission. Commissions are generated from click-through traffic that results in a sale.


Many advertisers use profiling (collected by tracking cookies) to serve a surfer with personalized pop-up advertisements based on sites the surfer has previously visited, or on advertisements the surfer has previously clicked on. Some surfers find profiling invasive, while others simply find pop-advertising annoying, and will automatically close ads as soon as they appear. Knowing this, less scrupulous marketers use buttons that resemble "close" buttons but actually perform other functions. Clicking on a "close" button might actually allow the remote server to install adware or malware. For this reason some surfers won’t click on ads at all, relying instead on ad-blockers to keep pop-up advertising from appearing.

Another type of pop-up advertising is the pop-under ad. These ads load under the webpage using a less obtrusive strategy. The reader will not see the ad until the webpage is closed. Marketers presumably hope that with surfing concluded, the reader will be more likely to give the ad his or her full attention.

Virtually all Web browsers today have internal settings for blocking third-party cookies and pop-up advertising. These controls work for pop-ups based on Javascipt, but marketers are always looking for a way around ad-blockers, and many ads are now written in Adobe® Flash®. Flash® blockers are also available, either as internal browser settings or as browser plugins, but this results in blocking all Flash® content. Since Flash® is also used for native content, most Flash® blockers will substitute Flash® content with a clickable button, allowing the surfer to enable only that content he or she wishes to see.


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