Are pop-up adverts still a good idea?

pop-up adverts

The 1990’s…

It gave us the Spice Girls, Sony PlayStation and the World Wide Web. With the web came pop-up adverts. All four of these can be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on your preference, but today we will be discussing whether pop-up ads should still be practised this decade, or whether it should’ve been left in the year 2000 with Posh Spice. 

The types of pop-ups


Click pop-up adverts are only activated when a visitor on your landing page or website clicks on a link, button or image.This pop-up will only appear when clicking the action. The users are in control as they are engaging with the content and will most likely convert.

Ad banners at the side of the pages or in the centre is the best method for promoting PDF downloads or free trials as they’ll standout from the text and will have the users fully complete the process.


As one of the most effective pop-up adverts, it appears when an already engaged visitor scrolls to a certain point on the page. Since they’re already interested in our content, it would be the perfect time to gain subscribers to your emails, or ask whether they want to download the latest webinar.

On a page, there are two locations which are deemed as a best practice for the ads.

Middle of the page trigger: If the page has multiple call-to-actions or images, triggering an ad halfway through will help the advert stand out from the hustle and bustle.

Bottom of the page trigger: If your web page is text heavy and full of information, you don’t want to interrupt your visitor and cause them to break away from learning about your business. Showing an advert at the bottom of the page means the user will be more likely to convert as they’ve had time to educate themselves on your business.


Pop-up adverts are very useful for offering the users a second time, whether they’re sure they don’t want that free demo or newsletter subscription. they’ll appear when the user is on their way to the back button, closing windows completely or simply heading towards the tabs. For extra chances of conversion, an offer or incentive can be included to sway their decision.


After a specified amount of time that a visitor has been on your website, pop-up adverts can be triggered to show an offer relevant to the product. The timed advert is ideal for not scaring away your visitor with an instant advert as it gives them time to read about the business. You can set the advert to appear from 3 seconds to minutes.

They can be annoying…


The internet has made it clear, we don’t like pop-up adverts. Not only is it generally annoying but it disrupts the user flow and creates a bad user experience. Just as you start reading some juicy content, a big pop-up comes along and blocks your view. Annoying.
And the best bit about this, the creator of pop-up adverts, Ron Carlson, has even
apologised for creating them!

Simply ruins the user experience

As we stated earlier, some pop-ups can be useful in guiding users through a website to get to where they want to be. Having the right context for your audience is essential to them actually being interested.

Adverts that don’t have an exit button or have hidden the button can force users to leave the website. It’s a forceful tactic that straight up refuses to acknowledge the consumers’ decisions to not accept your request for their details

Affects SEO Ranking

Google helps users quickly find the best answers to their questions from search, putting a lot of focus on the first-page user experience. Unfortunately (for these businesses), pop-ups that cover content almost immediately when users enter the website will be penalised by Google along with the advert not being shown.

“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from mobile search results may not rank as highly.” – Google, 2016

Google will lower your web page on the search engine results if your advert is;

  • Appearing on the page almost immediately upon entering and covers the main content.
  • Showing a full-screen advert as soon as the website is entered.
  • Showing the advert above-the-fold and the main content is below-the-fold.

Using an advert which takes up a majority of the screen space will not only reduce the SEO score from google, but online users will more than likely exit your page as soon as they see the full-sized advert which will add to the overall Google Analytics bounce rate and further reduce your page results.


If you have more than one large pop-up advert on your website, then since 2017, your advert in Google Chrome will be blocked as it is seen as a SPAM technique. Not only is it irritating, but it can also cause suspicions from your customers if you’re repeatedly forcing them to look at your adverts. It doesn’t provide the confidence that customers need to want to work with you.

Alongside the spammy nature, it simply sets a negative reputation for any brand (considering pop-ups are perceived negatively anyway through malware and hackers). As a result, ad block systems can be enabled on the computer, meaning your advert won’t be seen anyway. Google Chrome has also followed suit, and adverts needs to follow certain guidelines to allow your advert to appear.

Get into more detail about Google Chrome Ad Blocks and how you can comply!

Google pop-Advert Blocker

Google will block these adverts.

…But they can convert


Like any advert, pop-ups are designed to attract an organisations’ target audience to perform a specific action. Unless the users install pop-up blocking software, there is no way that the users can avoid seeing the advert.

The intention of a pop-up is to drive your customers towards a conversion. Each of the pop-up adverts can be strategically created to grab the attention of the visitors without overwhelming and intruding the whole screen of the visitor.

Example; If you’re reading an article about cupcake baking techniques, once you have finished and got to exit the page, an advert can appear for you to sign up to the business’s newsletter, offering you new weekly baking recipes.

Encourages Engagement

The average conversion rate is 3.09%. Seems tiny right? Now, imagine you have 100,000 visitors on your site. Those conversions will be over 3,000 subscribers. – Sumo, 2019

How do you get those conversions?…

Everybody loves an incentive, and that is one of the most effective methods that encourages users to give away their name and email address. Offering a free trial for the first of a video tutorial series can let your leads see how amazing your business is and they’ll officially sign up to receive the rest of the series. Offering free eBooks, report insights, case studies or templates can all be successful for cementing your organisation as a reliable, educational resource.

Is it worth using them?

Some websites you visit, you won’t be visited by any pop-ups, where others can throw 2 or 3 adverts at you. It goes to show how divided the ethics of marketing can be. If the leads your pop-ups generate outweighs the increased bounce rate, and decrease in trust by other users then it may just be worth keeping them.

Pop-ups adverts aren’t necessarily limited to screen-covering adverts that convert leads and gain data. Some can be helpful small, corner pop-ups and guide users through the website to blogs relevant to their current page, or as a live chat pop up that appears on the FAQ page. 

Businesses can retain quality leads with pop-ups, but only if it’s done correctly. Personally for BLT, we find that pop-ups interrupt the time we spend reading the content. What a turn off, especially if there are hidden buttons.

However, we wouldn’t rule them out completely as there are practices to help you comply with Google’s guidelines.

Banner Adverts: Available in both static imagery or rich media (animations, slideshows, video), banner adverts are placed at the edges of the web page or in the centre, but never taking up the whole page screen so the users can see the advert, read your content then easily come back to the advert.

Easy Exiting: There’s nothing worse than not being able to leave somewhere you don’t want to be. This works for pop-up adverts as well. Providing an easily located exit button helps your visitors exit your advert without them being forced to sign up to something they don’t want to.

Time triggers: As we mentioned above, timed pop-up adverts are one of the best adverts you can implement as it not only complies to Googles standards, your visitors are allowed time to see what your services are before you bring up an advert for an offer.

Offer something valuable: Personalising adverts lets your visitors see that you are paying attention to their individual interests. Depending on what page they enter, a customised advert that is linked to the page they’ve shown interest in will boost conversion.