What are Popunders?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Imagine a situation where you go to the library to find something and are accosted by salespeople with every step you take. How long would you stay in the library if you couldn’t take a step without someone trying to sell you something? Now imagine that there is a small bake sale outside the library, where the sellers are instructed to only approach people leaving the library. After having obtained the books you wanted, or read to your heart’s content, you may not mind being asked to buy some cookies, and you’d certainly be more likely to buy the cookies when you exit, than when you enter. This is the theory behind one marketing practice in Internet sales: the popunder ad.

While advertisers may view the pop-under ad favorably, the average person searching the Internet doesn’t necessarily share this opinion.
While advertisers may view the pop-under ad favorably, the average person searching the Internet doesn’t necessarily share this opinion.

Popunders are a type of pop-up ad that you may encounter when you’re searching through Internet sites. They are distinct from ads that pop up in front of the main page you’re searching. The typical pop up ad loads with the page you’re looking at, and often can be closed with a click or two of the mouse. With popunders, you may not realize an advertisement has opened until you start closing web pages. Then, you’ll find small ads or pages that have loaded behind the main page you were looking at, which can be somewhat annoying, or informative, depending upon how you look at Internet advertising in general.

The term popunder, sometimes spelled as pop-under, entered common usage quickly in the early 2000s as these ads became more prominent. They did pose problems for some people with older computers especially, if loading time for a page seemed to take forever. Popunders can slow loading of the main page, and they may produce graphics or sounds which force you to look through any open pages to find the source of the slow loading or noises interrupting the pages you want to look at.

One purpose of popunders is to increase traffic to websites without your knowledge or permission. The ad behind the page you’re browsing opens up a whole new page. Even if you simply close the page, counters can suggest you’ve been there, and if you have enabled cookies on your browsers such ads or site may be quietly researching some things about you without your knowledge, since you won’t notice the popunder until you close the page you’re browsing.

People who use extensive Internet marketing suggest popunders may be more effective than popovers. A popover is likely to be closed fairly immediately, since the person searching the Internet may have a clear search objective in mind. They don’t want to be bothered with intrusive advertisements and are likely to close any popup ads without looking at the sites.

Once the initial objective of visiting a page has been met, and the web page has been closed, a popunder ad might actually prompt true scanning of a site. The person may want to understand why the site opened one of their browser windows, or having met their objective in searching, they’re now free to “window shop” ads. This isn’t always the case. Some people just quit their browser programs without looking at ads beneath the page they’re searching.

Another advantage to popunders is that they offer ads without intruding upon the web surfer’s objective. Pop-overs can be so incredibly intrusive on a site that people will immediately search for a page with less intrusive ads. Yet some resent pop-ups of any kind and there are lots of remedies to avoid them. Many web browsers and software that scans for viruses can help eliminate either type, and there are a number of free or inexpensive popup blockers that can help get rid of ads you find intrusive.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent EasyTechJunkie contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


"Poper Blocker" is a recommended Chrome extension dedicated for blocking pop-unders.

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