If you have ever been unfortunate enough to find your computer infected by a virus you’ll know how frustrating the endless stream of annoying pop-ups can be. The more you try to get rid of them the worse things get and eventually your computer slows to a crawl. Improved computer security and advanced browser technologies have to some extent restricted exposure to this less than ethical marketing intrusion to all but the most naïve of internet users.
However, there is no doubt that online or digital marketing remains integral to our online experience, particularly as users’ appetite for free or cheap online content continues to grow and even more so with the growth in mobile consumption often supported by advertising. In fact according to a report by Zenith Optimedia global online advertising spend is forecast to exceed print by 2015 with internet advertising jumping from $76.9 billion last year to $132.4 billion in 2015.
With these numbers in mind it is hardly surprising that advertisers look for new ways to catch and hold our attention.
Which brings me to my gripe. Whilst I accept that advertising is an essential if sometime intrusive part of our online life it should not be at the expense of end user experience. Never has this been more prevalent than in the rapidly growing mobile space where, according to leading global financial services firm Morgan Stanley, 2014 is the year that mobile internet usage will match desktop use. This means that if you are planning to use online advertising and particularly pop ups you should consider the impact on mobile user experience. Mobile browsers run on less powerful hardware than their desktop equivalents and can easily be brought to their knees by a resource hungry script (Safari on the iPad Air, I’m looking at you in particular!)
Last week I was driven to the point of madness by a site that displayed a pop up shortly after loading the page. The visible, but incredibly tiny x (close button) would not respond to my finger jabbing no matter what I tried. If it didn’t load another page (which it frequently did) it remained overlaid on the page blocking the information I wanted to view. Even worse was the dimmed out page background which made it near impossible to try and read around it!
So to conclude. If you must use pop ups or overlays, (and for some they are an essential source of revenue) please consider the poor mobile user. Our fingers are not tiny and our browsers are often not as powerful as their desktop equivalents so please try to minimise the impact on performance