EarthLink Joins Wave Against Pop-Ups

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Internet service provider EarthLink Inc. said yesterday it has added a feature that lets subscribers block pop-up advertisements, those small ad windows that appear in separate browsers as people surf the Web.

The announcement follows a similar one last month from women's online media company iVillage Inc. that it was banning pop-ups but not pop-unders, and a report that AOL has cut its pop-up ads by as much as 90 percent.

Similarly to iVillage, EarthLink cited consumer annoyance with pop-ups as the reason for debuting its blocking service.

"With Pop-Up Blocker, customers can better manage their time online and minimize the aggravation of unwanted, seemingly incessant pop-up ads," Rob Kaiser, vice president of narrowband marketing for Atlanta-based EarthLink, said in a statement.

Pop-ups present a dilemma for many online advertisers because they have proven far more effective at driving response than many other forms of Web advertising, yet consumers hate them.

Earthlink's Pop-Up Blocker is designed to prevent ad windows from appearing above or under customers' main browser windows, the ISP said in its statement. The feature appears as an icon on subscribers' browser screens.

Every time an ad window is suppressed, Pop-Up Blocker alerts customers with an optional sound effect and a brief change in the appearance of the mouse icon, the company said.

EarthLink also said that for sites that use pop-up windows as a normal part of business, such as banks or fantasy sports sites, Pop-Up Blocker lets users specify certain Web addresses or URLs where they'll allow pop-up windows to appear. Customers also can override Pop-Up Blocker by holding down the control key or clicking twice on a link.

EarthLink acquired the technology for its new service from Salt Lake City-based FailSafe Technology Inc.

Pop-Up Blocker will be included with EarthLink's 2003 Internet software, the ISP said.

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