12 tips on how to create effective advertisement on your web site...

Everybody on the web hates pop-ups. I hate pop-ups, you hate pop-ups, your visitor hates pop-ups. However, the pop-ups are still coming and coming, why? The reason is very simple - until recently pop-ups are considered to be the only alternative to the banners, and give much higher click-through rate. I would like to show you how to make an ad presentation even more efficient. The following strategy is likely to improve your click-through rate by at least 50-100% - not bad for a research report that you are getting free of charge.

  1. The first question: you have pop-ups on your web site already. The launch of a pop-up must be triggered by some event, for example:
    a) before the main page is loaded;
    b) after the main page is loaded;
    c) after the main page is closed.
    Question: which one of the pop-ups is most efficient? Yeap, you are right - popup c) upon the page unload has the click-through rate higher than the two others. The reason is simple - if somebody comes to your page, s/he wants to get something out of it! The visitor does not want to leave your page without glancing into it, just because he has been promised some "Buy one - get one free", and this is a good news for you, actually. When he is done with you page - it is a different story. He will be more likely willing to shift his attention to some entertainment/shopping - so fire the popup at the right moment!

    Even better results can be achieved when the popup is fired at the exit from your web site. The visitor is switching attention from you to somebody else. Wish him/her good luck and give a valuable advise.

    And last but not the least - please, please, please - do not be annoying! Configure your pop-up to appear only once per day or so. Do not fire more than one pop-up per session. Respect your visitor - try to keep your traffic steady and increase your revenue by high click-through rate only.

  2. When dealing with pop-ups you are efficiently dealing with small chunks of JavaScript or Jscript often referred to as DHTML that is executed on the client's browser. Potentially, one can do a lot with DHTML, so the number of places on the web potentially dangerous for your computer would be large. To avoid such misfortune, the DHTML in your browser has an elaborate security model. Only few, absolutely safe actions are allowed. All other actions, for example, opening a pop-up window with the size less than 50 pixels (too small!) are considered to be dangerous are require explicit user's permission. The request for permission is handled by the browser and is formulated in such complicated and alarming way, that nobody, including myself, would ever give such permission. As a result, whatever cool stuff you wish to do with the pop-ups, you should always stay within the DHTML functions designated as "safe". For example, you cannot minimize your popup, but you can "hide" the popup window behind all other windows on the screen. One of the best known examples is the "delayed pop-up", i.e. popup that appears not on load on unload of the main page, but at some point later on. If you configured the pop-up to appear five minutes after someone leaves your web site, then your pop-up efficiently will appear on someone else's website. You can populate with popups all websites your visitors visit after visiting yours, and pay nothing to your "affiliates". 100% legal and clean, moreover, the delayed popups are even more efficient than the regular ones, because of the "cross-promotion effect" - "Gee, they are are big! Their ads are everywhere! Shouldn't I just look into it!?"
  3. Unlike the content related web sites, ads are not about content. Ads seldomly target the rational user, who makes web research looking for some bargains. The ads are for the spontaneous customer whose attention was traped by something bright, intriguing and fresh. The designer's work is everything, while particular details of the offer are secondary for attracting attention. One of the simplest things that one can do with a popup is to change its size and position on the screen. For example, the "baseball popup" could appear in the upper left corner, move to the upper right corner and then further by perimeter back to the upper left, where it would come to rest. The "drinker's popup" would make few arbitrary movements all over the screen with sudden stops. The "cosmic popup" would appear in one spot, move along the smooth curve to the center growing in size, and move away along the same curve decreasing in size after the user clicked on a clearly marked "Close" button. There is no limit to what a creative designer can do with simple tools like that, if only he is backed up by appropriate support of a programmer.
  4. Depending on the web site attitude, you can be more provocative and playful with your users. For example, you can create popup with the large "Close" button and small "Visit sponsor" button. First, the user will be puzzled - why do you recommend to push "Close" rather than "visit sponsor"? No, you cannot switch the meanings of the buttons - it is rude and offensive. You cannot disable the "Close" button - it is plain stupid. But you can move the whole popup away when the user is trying to place his mouse on it, so he can never catch it. The play should come to an end in 30-60 seconds by showing something like: "You have tried to close me several times. I think you don't like me and I am leaving. Yours sincerely, The Ad", and close the popup a few seconds after that.
  5. Technically speaking, the popup is called a "daughter window", because it opens a new browser window linked to the main "parent" window. Such arrangement was created purely for continuity reasons, so that the old types of browsers would be able to add new layers of presentation through an additional window only. Modern browser can do the same job without opening a new window, by simply adding an additional top layer inside the same main window.
    It gives several advantages - for example, you don't have to show any bars on the top of the frame. Moreover, you don't have to show the rectangle frame at all, your ad can be round, oval or of any shape you can imagine, thanks to the transparent gif technology. It can move, resize and do all sorts of tricks that can be done with the regular popups, plus many more. Just do not forget to pop a small "close" button...
  6. Speaking about the banners, why not put the hybrid of a banner and a popup on your web site? How? It is very simple - just ad to the banner a small script that expands the regular banner to the regular size popup upon mouse over. Upon mouse out the popup should go back to the original size. This simple trick is surprisingly efficient.
  7. Only few companies explored the "screen-saver" version of the ad promotion. "Screen-saver" is actually a popup that will appear on your visitor's screen after ten-fifteen minutes of inactivity. "Screen-savers" are large, full-screen popups, similar to ?interstitial? ads. Screen savers should mimic the regular windows screen savers and be "snoozeable" very easily, say, by pressing any key. In general, the full-screen popups are a very powerful tool.
  8. There are many problems with populating chat rooms with the marketing materials. On one hand, people spend long time in the chat rooms. According to the web standards, each minute on the web page where you "do something" can be considered as a separate "pageview". At the same time people are very reluctant to leave the page while chating - no one wants to "visit sponsor" instead of talking. Effectively it results in the high traffic figures with very low click through rates. What to do in such situations?
    The answer is as old as the commercial broadcasting. You have to interrupt your service for a "commercial break". During the break you can either replace the entire window with the commercial, or show a "daughter window" popup. You can either remove the chat-frame completely or just make in unavailable for user's own input, so that he/she could only see everybody else chating, while watching the commercial instead. Once again, the way of doing commercial brakes should be borrowed from the regular models - web producers could implement more or less all or them.
  9. One of the interesting ideas, not implemented so far by anyone, is a "commercial break" popup that requires more than simply "close" attention. For example, the popup could announce that now the user has to click through ten different links on the sponsor's site before returning control to the chart window. This way the users will effectively create their own commercial presentation of the sponsor's web site, and will pay a great deal of attention, because they will have to identify the links to be clicked. However, this project requires not ten lines of Javascript code, but something like one hundred and was not implemented so far.
  10. Web sites with some development power can create the "intellectual agents" that "interact" with the user in a "personal" manner. For example, in a romantic chat room, Jack keaps speaking with Mary for 40 minutes straight. We can show him a popup saying something like "Jack, it would be a really good idea to send flowers to Mary. Please call 1-800-flowers or order online with this link". One can even create a "chating robot" intellectual enough to make appropriate marketing suggestions and not offend the real chatters.
  11. Small and efficient type of the banner-popup hybrid. The expanding part may be adjusted along with the banner position and expand outside of the main page body. If done neatly, it will greatly amuse the user, and get a warm response, too, because it does not interrupt page viewing.
  12. This last advice is only good for entertainment related web sites. Whether we want it or not, we are all affected by modern music and its rhythm. The music rhythm often affects the lowest levels of our conciousness. Web advertisement could re-use the already existing rhythmic traditions of our society. Dynamic effects on the web sites should fall under artist's control. The younger, more energetic audience would appreciate the faster, modern rhythms of commercial material, while older audience would prefer something slower. The more the main page material moves towards the erotic subjects, the more clear and erotic oriented the ads should be, including the rhythm. The editorial and marketing teams should work together to maintain a consistent image of the web site.