Ask the Audience
Corbett Barr asked his readers at thinktraffic.net what they think of pop-ups. The overwhelming majority said that they hated them. There were a few who said that they got value out of them, either as a consumer, or more usually as a producer.
I engaged in a discussion with one commenter about my view on pop-ups and integrity; my view is that if you don’t like them, but you use them anyway that you have compromised your integrity.
I would rather make a living being 100% true to myself.
BUT if you like them, and wish to use them then that is of course consistent with your own personal morality, and entirely up to you!
What disturbed me somewhat was where people said that they couldn’t see how morality came in to it. These are grown men who are still unable to reconcile a personal morality which guides their day-to-day actions.
You see, what I think is wrong is not the people who like encountering pop ups and thus use them, it’s the people who don’t like them filling their screens, but use them anyway because “that’s marketing”.
That’s a really shitty attitude.
I don’t blame them entirely – our culture is not conducive to producing men of standards and rigour – and if they were aware of the implication that their actions has to their ethics I am sure they would develop a business model that was consistent with their morals. But I do want space to respond in a bit more depth, and where better than my blog.
A Question of Ethics
I am going to indulge myself a bit here, and just dissect a few choice quotes.
“I’m not sure how ethics play into it. You’re not killing anyone”
This statement is absurd at surface value, since it equates ethics with “not killing anyone”. I am willing to give the poster the benefit of the doubt, as surely this is not what he meant. Ethics play in to every decision you make in life; be it the kind of tea that you drink, the variety of transport you use to get around, or the toilet paper you use to wipe your shit.
“It IS marketing after all”
Marketing should not be exempt from integrity and ethics. Many have chosen to “sell their soul” for that extra 10% but it’s not a decision that everyone has to make or even should if they want to live the best kind of life.
I’m an idealist sure, but I also understand that I have to live with myself. And that means I have to be comfortable with every action I take. The only person judging me when I die will be myself – and I am the last person I would want to disappoint!
“I would never drink a Coke, but I have no moral problem with offering you one. Especially if I run a restaurant.
It’s simply a matter of context.”
The selling arena might be different, but the context is exactly the same; it is a decision about using/selling something that you do or don’t like and how that relates to your own personal stand.
If I ran a restaurant and didn’t like coke for more than just taste reasons (i.e. if I was opposed to the marketing practices or contents of coke) then I would not sell it.
I don’t plan on opening a restaurant any time soon, but there are others who have done this, and the truth of it is self-evident in their actions; vegan restaurants run by those who won’t eat meat, organic restaurants run by those who won’t eat artificial hormones, etc. etc.
The coke example is not only ridiculous but proves my point.
Clearly this comes as a revelation to some – the idea that you don’t have to do what everyone else does just to make a buck. But the greater revelation is that you don’t have to do what you disagree with just to make a buck.
A Natural Monopoly
Harry Brown often talks about finding your natural monopoly – this involves being true to yourself so that you can find like-minded people – people who like you for you.
“If you are willing to miss out on great content because there is a popup, then I think that you are the one missing out, not the host”
This post is in defense of pop-ups yet has gamely flailed around one of the best features of a pop-up; it is a natural selector of the right kind of audience. If your audience likes what you are doing, likes pop-ups then they will go ahead and use them/enjoy them and they are a better audience for you than those who would turn a website away for the use of them. Equally, those who close a site on the appearance of a pop-up are also able to be more selective and choose content-providers whose view more closely aligns with their own.
The simple fact is, that if you use a pop up, then you are likely a person who is different to me – not necessarily a bad thing in itself.
BUT If I were to go against my nature by perusing, using and consuming the content of someone whose take on life is that different to mine then I would be doing both of us a disservice.
Contrary to what some would have you believe there is an overabundance of information on the internet. This is why people pay for premium services because it narrows down all the shit that they might otherwise have to wade through. Your content may well be superb, perhaps the greatest! But there are other providers who can ably assist someone while ALSO providing a more favourable ethical framework.
The easiest example is that of food providers; the local organic greengrocer, versus a market which sells anything. You are able to choose and your choice will depend on a number of variables, one of which may well (should) be your ethical stance.
One commenter thought that I had misaligned the ideal of integrity with the function of pop-ups. He said;
“The pop is not there to steal your wallet and fleece your mother in law of her inheritance – it is there to offer value on top of what already exists”
Glossing over the unnecessarily emotive language and getting to the point, we see that the pop up only adds value to those who value it.
If you are like me and do not like pop ups then it detracts value.
Again this is a GOOD thing for both those who them and those who don’t, since it encourages the right choices to be made. In this way the pop up is not there to add value but to act as a funnel in the same way that a squeeze page works. It is designed to filter through those people who like them, who are easily persuaded, and the less technologically savvy who assume that they must fill in any form they stumble across.
If YOU like pop ups and want to use them then that’s awesome. And you will meet more people who are like you and attract an audience who values the way you operate, which is also awesome.
It is evident from the response that the vast majority of individuals hate pop ups. This should be embraced as a GOOD THING for those who use them; it will help them to attract only those customers who will prove most valuable and congruent.
Marketers tell us all the time to narrow and specify our target audience, and pop ups are surely one incredibly efficient way of doing this – just as not using pop ups will attract those who appreciate the lack of interruptions.
I don’t plan on persuading anyone with this rant – and I am not trying to convince those who happily use pop ups that they are wrong, because I don’t think that they are – but I do plan on reassuring those out there who are like me, who have a developed personally morality that there are others out there like us – and you will know us by our actions.
If you liked what I have to say, or if this article pissed you off, then let me know in the comments. Anything goes.