Why Pop-Up Ads are Like Pouring Wastes into Drinking Waters

Svitlana Titus
6 min readApr 4, 2018


You’d be surprised how many examples of bad website ads one can still find.

Just look at this web article.

First, I thought it couldn’t get worse: 3 in-page ads, 1 pop-up ad that doesn’t close, and one line of content, which is a headline actually.

A bit later, I went to the same website to study its ad mechanics further and got a record broken.

2 in-page ads, 1 pop-up ad, 1 video ad with autoplay, and not a single line of content.

Annoying, huh?

At that time, I was working with the specialists in website advertising, so I asked them for the reasons.

The reason is always the eagerness to maximize revenue in the shortest way possible.

Most ad operations are run based on the CPM model. Advertisers pay for the views of their ad content. Such pop-ups with the size of a screen are pretty hard to overlook. Moreover, a pop-up ad appearing out of nowhere can also get a lot of misclicks.

What’s a pop-up ad by the definition?

It’s an additional window that opens within your ad browser above the existing browser experience to deliver an ad to you.

Placing annoying pop-up ads on the website guarantees they will be seen. Placing them more increases the yield. All is great.

Until it backfires.

How pop-up ads harm your monetization

Two words: ad blockers.

In the year 2002, one Danish student procrastinating from his university work created the first-ever ad blocking extension for the Firefox browser.

This has laid the beginning for the everlasting war between the adblocking solutions and the website scripts for bypassing them.

This is by TechWyse.

It lasted until the last year when Google made a move with its own solution for blocking ads.

Adblocking: a blessing or a curse?

Regular users see only the advantages of adblocking. That is why the digital ad industry needs to educate them on the issue.

Ads are used by the media to get the revenue while sharing their content free of charge. The more ads are being blocked, the more publishers will ultimately set a price for accessing the content.

Media also increasingly turn to sponsored materials or money from investors, which ultimately kills their ability to remain impartial.

Are there any good ads?

To answer this question, you can look at the top reasons for installing ad blockers.

Users block ads because ads:

  • Increase the size of a web page and thus slow down its load.
  • Use data allowance and battery charge of a phone.
  • Cover the content or are intrusive in any other way.

What is this ‘intrusiveness’ and who gets to define it?

The idea to create a pleasant browsing experience while preserving the ads is the pillar at the foundation of the Coalition for Better Ads.

The Coalition’s members include the associations of advertisers, IAB international offices, groups of digital publishers, advertising vendors, as well as Google and Facebook themselves.

In its official statements, CFBA emphasizes the role of advertising in supporting free journalism. Hence, the protection of users from negative ad experience equals the protection of free online content.

That’s why the group has released the Initial Better Ads Standards. These Standards are basically the rules that the Chrome ad-blocking solution runs by.

The Standards prohibit these ads, so does Chrome.

Why so much fuss?

Google holds a great share of the digital advertising market. It also owns the most widely used web browser. Then, it goes on and says it will decide which ads can pass a control. That’s huge.

When specialists from digital advertising hear the word ‘duopoly’, they have a clear understanding of who are the two. Google and Facebook. The duopoly also means that each announcement of the giants should be traced since their actions are game-changing.

So, when the Wall Street Journal first shared a rumor about the in-built Google Chrome ad blocker, everybody got disturbed.

Google, however, refused to call its solution an ‘adblocker’ and referred to it as an ‘adfilter’.

On 15 February 2018, this solution went live. Not that long ago.

Some specialists in website advertising are still trying to get some clear documentation for such an ad filtering process.

Not your regular ad blocker

Here is what we know so far.

The new ad filtering solution shouldn’t hamper the codes on your website the way AdBlock Plus does it.

Google promised that all websites would be reviewed and any bad ad activity would be recorded.

If a publisher gets caught with a single bad ad, all ads will be blocked. But first, Google will send a 30-day prior notice to change your website for better. Only then, a website gets demonetized.

It seems that the new solution should bring benefits to everyone: the pleasant user experience, a good-looking mobile and desktop view, and an increased reach for brands.

Almost 42% of the websites where Google had noticed bad ads made changes.

This leaves us with more than half of them remaining the same.

What is an alternative to the pop-up ads?

Have you heard of the ads called ‘native’?

A native ad is an ad unit where the promotion and content are united. Native ads are defined by their ability to take the form and the function of the user experience they are put within. They look like natural content and behave the same way.

Every side of the advertising process can benefit from native ads. They are well-integrated and drive higher CPMs thanks to the pleasant user experience.

How you can launch native ads

Starting last year, AdSense has introduced its native ad solution. But if you’re against the market duopoly, you can do like Axel Springer publishing group did and support some smaller ad tech vendors.

The list of the most common native advertising networks includes Revcontent, Outbrain, Taboola, Nativo, TripleLift, and many others.

Taboola even gives a demo for the non-registered users to see the look of your content in the native ad placements.

I tried it with one of our Median ads articles.

Some European publishers use plista, for example. German websites from the Axel Springer group cheer for AppNexus, you can notice it by the redirect to adnxs.com.

My favorite study material is ‘finanzen.net’. It seems that this website has gathered all possible monetization vendors on one page.

This tiny ad of HSBC is a direct placement.

In the news section, they also have some good old Google ads.

As for the content recommendations, they use dianomi.

All in all, there are many ways to put ads on your website. The number of ad tech vendors you can work with is even bigger.

The pop-ups might seem like a good option when you’re seeing the ad money coming to you.

Just remember that this flow may be drained all of a sudden.

Keep your monetization natural. Be eco-friendly.



Svitlana Titus

an NPC who got too many phrases