The Problem with Pop-Up Ads
I’m reading an article about a very important international issue that interests me. I'm intrigued, sucked in, focused...and then, BOOM!, halfway through the article, I have a jewelry company invading my phone’s screen with a generic ad asking me to visit their site.
This jewelry is not my style.
I’ve never visited their site before.
I’m already familiar with their brand due to TV advertising.
And I will never shop with them.
It’s nothing personal. I’m just not interested. (Not in the slightest.)
In short: I am not their target audience. So this company, quite simply, is wasting their time and money on me. But because they've chosen to cast such a wide and free-for-all net, I've been captured and now I must contend with their lazy marketing ploy. And, naturally, they've made it difficult for me to opt-out.
Now, say, I accidentally click on this ad while trying to hit the teeny-tiny, microscopic X with my clumsy fingers. Immediately, I’m taken to their site - where I don't want to be. (I want to be reading my article, remember?) So, of course, there is now the hassle of leaving that window, finding my article, locating where I left off, etc. And that's one thing; but this little accident also lands me on their retargeting list, meaning more ads will inevitably follow, all trying to trick me into visiting their site again. So, now, this becomes a game of minesweeper, with me dodging their ads across the web for at least a week - and we're not even a good fit for each other! They should be harassing their target customers, not me.
And as this losing game continues, my mood swiftly changes from bothered to bitter. Now, every time I see an ad for that brand, I start to hate it, little by little. And the more I lose bits and pieces of my precious time and energy to their brand name, product, color palette, or sales pitch, I get more and more angry with their very existence.
This situation is no longer an annoyance - it's become a full-blown vendetta. And every time I dodge their traps, I feel a morsel of joy and satisfaction with the fact that I will never buy from them, ever. Not in a million f#@king years! They've gotten all the clicks they're ever gonna get from me, and I'll be damned if they get any more.
It's a vicious cycle, and it could have been avoided so easily.
So, why would a company use a pop-up ad in the first place? And why would people, organizations or brands - who go out of their way to produce good content - allow these companies to interrupt the user experience of their site?
It’d be one thing if these ads were targeted to my tastes, relevant to the topic I’m researching, or aligned with my unique wants. (They already have my data, right?) But when it’s generic, one-size-fits-all, designed for mass audiences on TV, I’m-going-to-get-in-your-face-whether-you-like-it-or-not bullshit like this - in a long tail economy - I can’t help but wonder, what kind of business treats their prospects and customers this way?
And why do we put up with it?