New Netscape targets pop up ads

AOL Time Warner has released a version of its Netscape browser that lets Web surfers suppress pop-up ads, a further sign of declining fortunes for a widely hated marketing format.

The new pop-up-stopping Netscape 7.01 was released Tuesday, offering a belated compromise for Web surfers increasingly buffeted by intrusive advertising.

Netscape's decision to offer pop-up blocking comes as the advertising unit finds itself under siege by irate Web surfers and Web properties increasingly nervous about the format's use--particularly America Online.

AOL's popular proprietary online service recently revised its pop-up policies, ending sales of the format to third-party advertisers--a move AOL said would cost it $30 million next year. The change comes as the company faces a dizzying decline in ad and e-commerce revenue, which are expected to drop 40 percent to 50 percent in 2003 on top of similar declines this year. The company is also saddled with declining subscriber growth rates.

Some Web watchers said AOL's new stance will likely stoke a broad consumer backlash against pop-ups that could eventually lead more publishers to cut back on or abandon the format.

"The pop-up ad is so negative right now that, over time, it will be all but gone from the landscape as advertisers work to find new and more palatable ways to get their message across to consumers," wrote Jupiter analyst Michael Gartenberg in an e-mail interview.

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News source: c|net

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