Are Pop-Up Ads Helping or Hurting?

Congratulations, You’ve Won!

Who remembers the pesky pop-up ads promising you a free 5-day cruise or one million dollars? I don’t know about any of you, but I never saw those promises come to fruition. I’m still waiting for my all-inclusive vacation (which would be nice right about now in this 20 degree weather). Sure, pop-up ads have changed over time. The pre-emoji smiley faces aren’t flashing neon lights anymore and with luck, several of them offer an instant coupon code for joining a mailing list.

But are the effective?


Call them what you want: pop-ups, modal windows, digital boxes, whatever. These guys have a reputation for being invasive when it comes to website usability. Depending on the device and the website’s design, certain pop-up ads can make it nearly impossible browse. This frustration leads 81% of consumers to close out of a browser, and likely feel frustrated with the brand.

What This Means for Marketing

Winning your audience’s affection should be done with authenticity, not gimmicks. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and place for advertising (and if it’s not part of your digital strategy, it probably should be). But bombarding website visitors with pesky pop-ups removes their sense of control and leads to frustration.

The digital world we live in demands intuitive, seamless experiences. The more enjoyable an experience, the sooner a user is likely to repeat the process. If a pop-up ad will genuinely enhance the user’s experience, then there could be a way to work it into the UX design, but if it will take away from the ease of use, try using an inline call-to-action instead.

For a detailed look at pop-up ads vs. usability, conversions, and bounce rates, Usability Geek has a great article.