AOL puts pop-unders on the night shift

America Online will begin limiting pop-under advertisements linked to its AOL Instant Messenger service on Thursday, in order to target at-home rather than at-work audiences, according to a company representative.

The Internet service provider said it has been delivering pop-under ads--usually promotions that spring up behind requested Web pages--for some time to members of its instant chat application, AIM.

"Effective tomorrow, (we) will only run them after 7 p.m. (We find that users at work find them particularly annoying)," AOL spokeswoman Ruth Sarfaty said in an e-mail.

Many mainstream Web sites have also stopped allowing the ads. MSN and Yahoo say they limit the ads to specific areas of their sites. AOL has scaled back the sale of pop-ups, too, so Internet service subscribers won't be bothered.

Yet other publishers willingly allow pop-ups or pop-unders because they command higher prices, and they're in high demand by advertisers. Ad executives say they can cost advertisers $10 per thousand sent, or more for popular sites. That compares with between $2 and $3 per thousand for a static banner ad that appears on the same popular site.

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