December 22, 1997 4:55 PM PST

Pop-up ads OK for Tripod

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Pop-up ads, the much-maligned Internet advertising phenomenon, have found a safe haven on Web hosting service Tripod.

Companies such as America Online, Prodigy, and GeoCities, which have all experimented with the Java-script ads, have come under heavy fire from their members for the intrusiveness of the ads, which literally "pop up" in a separate window.

But Tripod, which has been using pop-up ads since November, has encountered little of the same opposition. Tripod chief executive Bo Peabody attributes the lack of controversy to Tripod's inclusion of its community members in the decision-making process.

"We're careful to include the members in all these types of decisions," Peabody said.

Additionally, Tripod tested the ads thoroughly to avoid some of the technical glitches such as browser crashes and caching errors that pop-up ads have caused on other sites.

Sites that offer free services, such as Tripod and GeoCities, are becoming more aggressive about their advertising programs as they attempt to transform their membership bases into revenue generators. According to Peabody, Tripod told its members that "this community needs to be profitable to survive, and that means either paying fees for service or allowing advertising on member sites."

While he concedes that there were some complaints from members about the ads during the testing period, in general, the response has been positive, he said.

In addition, the pop-ups have a click-through rate of between 3 and 5 percent--compared to the 1 percent click-through rate of the more ubiquitous banner ads.

"They [advertisers] think it's brilliant," Peabody said. "The ad is affiliated with the page, but not on the page. It distances the ad and the editorial content a little bit."

Despite the bad rap the ads have gotten so far, Peabody sees them as the future of advertising on the Net. "Our plan is this will be an industry standard for user-created content."


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