My friend tweeted me about how obnoxious web popups are. You know the kind: you’re reading a web page and your reading is interrupted by a pop-up urging you to join a mailing list or buy a product. It’s a total interruption, and almost everyone clicks past the popup. Why would merchants be so stupid, he asked.
They aren’t stupid. Because, my friends, those popups work.
We’re in an attention arms race that won’t be doing anything but escalating. The reality is that content is not free. It takes time and effort to put up web sites. Ultimately, those must be paid for somehow. Since very few people want to pay for content directly, advertising is the only way to pay for it. But the more ads we see, the more we ignore. Advertisers must get increasingly in-your-ace to have even a small chance of motivating you to buy something. And at the end of the day, it’s that purchase that helps them feed their families, not the legions of people who read for free and never spend a dime.
I hate popup ads too, but I make my living as a content creator. I understand the reasoning and reluctantly join in the war for attention, myself. Because if enough of you don’t buy my products and services, I’ll have to shut down my business and get a job plucking chickens or something. That wouldn’t be very pleasant for you, for me, or for the chicken.