Back in the early days of the web, businesses were scrambling to make their advertising and marketing stand out.
An “early to the scene” web hoster, Tripod, became a haven for webmasters and business owners alike – giving companies the potential to design their homepages, and sponsor adverts across different sites.
In one freak accident, a car company advertising with Tripod purchased a banner ad on a page that was…decidedly not about cars.
Everyone was trying to find the next big thing and monetize the web, yet in that moment of sheer dread, the designers at Tripod conceived the bothersome window we’ve all come to recognize:
The popup ad.
Now let’s fast-forward to today, and the internet we know.
Ad blockers and popup-stoppers are virtually ingrained in our browsers’ DNA.
As marketers and publishers, we need to work around these barriers and use popup ads for the powerful advertising tool that they are and communicate important CTAs with our audience.
Whether your goal is to build up our subscriber numbers, create an enviable mailing list, or establish rapport within your communities; how better to get (and keep) their attention than popups?
Thankfully, the requirement for a new window for a popup has fallen out of favor, and the more versatile, lightbox-style of (unblockable) popup ad has found a home on nearly every blog page and website.
Today’s popups are not only unobtrusive, but they can also be customized to fit your site’s design, personality, and tone of voice as well as triggered only when certain events (such as scrolling to the end of an article) have taken place.
These kinds of features not only serve to make the popup feel like a more integrated part of your website, but also make it a more welcome feature to your visitors by adding value every step of the way.
With that in mind, here are a few of the best free and premium popup scripts and plugins for nearly every type of project.
jQuery Modal Popup Ads
JQuery model popups are popups that display as an overlay, usually darkening the content on the page so that the user’s attention is focused squarely on the popup message. They range from simple designs to complex, customizable screens.
JQuery Super Notice ($9)
JQuery Super Notice combines both sleek code and attractive designs in one fully customizable interface.
Not a JQuery wizard? No problem.
Use the included generator to create your own design featuring icons, buttons, header graphics, and much more.
Facebook Traffic Pop ($9)
If you’d like to increase your following on Facebook or give away premium products behind a “like wall”, this is the popup for you.
Many well-known companies test their promotions by encouraging a “like first before the promotion can be viewed” or “follow us to enter the sweepstakes” through their website.
Facebook Traffic Pop has similar functionality, but can also be customized to give users the ability to close the popup. You can also delay the popup to show after a certain timeframe has passed, making this one of the most flexible Facebook popups around.
Popup Product Showcase ($6)
At only 2 kb in size, this jQuery-based popup makes showing off your latest products easy and even mobile-friendly. Simply swipe left or right to view or dismiss the popup. Additionally, the popup can be embedded in your page or triggered as a typical pop-over/lightbox.
YouTube/Vimeo Popup ($4)
If you’d like to embed a video from YouTube or Vimeo as opposed to using your popup as a subscription form or announcement area, this script makes it easy to do just that.
Whenever a user clicks an element on your webpage (which you define) such as a link or an image, the video popup will appear. It’s also responsive to various browser sizes and devices, making it very user-friendly and easy to implement.
WordPress Popup Ads
As one of the most popular content management systems, WordPress has no shortage of plugins designed to enhance its functionality.
Popups are one of their most popular types of plugins, and it’s easy to see why. With so much customizability and integration with email marketing providers built-in, it’s no wonder why so many website owners choose popup plugins to grow their subscriber base.
Dreamgrow Scroll-Triggered Box (Free)
You’ve likely seen those popups that appear when you’ve finished reading an article. This next tool is no different. It’s designed to capture your attention at the exact time where you’ve received value from the site, and are most likely to consider subscribing. This style of popup has been used to successfully increase conversion rates across many different industries.
Newsletter sign-ups are just one CTA that can be used for this scroll-triggered box. This tool can also be used to encourage social media shares, display related products, fill in a contact form, and much more.
You can even set the box to trigger when a certain percentage of the scroll is finished, at the time that feels right for the copy or design of your site.
Pre-made templates are available as well as the ability to customize the box to fit your site’s design and style.
You can also optionally allow the box to stay hidden for a certain number of days after the visitor has closed it (since no one wants to get bombarded with the same message after they’ve declined!) as well as control the position of the box.
Hustle Pro ($5 Monthly)
- grow your email lists
- increase your sale conversion rates
- use unlimited customizable popups, slide-ins, and embeds
OptinMonster ($9-49 Monthly)
Wix Editor Popup Ads
It’s also worth noting that if you have a Wix site, the standard editor allows you to add lightbox popups. This can be done within 5 easy steps:
- Click the “Add +” button on the left side of the Editor.
- Click “Interactive”.
- Select a lightbox category.
- Drag a lightbox element onto your page.
- Click “Set Triggers” and start setting up your lightbox.
Wix offers template popups for you to customize.
Squarespace Popup Ads
Promotional popups on Squarespace are available as a premium feature for Business and Commerce plans.
Google’s Policy on Interstitial Popups
If you’ve found the perfect tool for your site today – great!
There’s just one thing to bear in mind: make sure your ads don’t cover content, especially for mobile users. Google’s interstitial policy now ensures that users can read website content without barriers. Failure to follow this rule could help your website be penalized, reducing organic leads as well harmfully impacting your SERP ranking.
This can easily be avoided by only incorporating popups on larger screens (such as tablets or desktop users).
Popup Ads FAQs [Note to Editor: Add WP Schema]
What are popup ads?
Popups are advertisements that can be programmed to appear on your website at times when your audience is most likely to respond to your call to action. They are a handy marketing tool for businesses looking to increase their conversion rate through powerful offerings and attention-captivating advertisements.
How do I use popup ads?
Some website hosters, like Wix and Squarespace, have in-built popup ad features in their website editors. However, if you are self-hosting, then popup scripts and plugins can be added to your website in order to use popup ads.
What are some good tools for popup ads?
In our article on “7 great popup scripts and plugins,” we cover some useful, downloadable tools that can be used for customizable popup ads. Our suggested range is designed to suit any budget.
What is the danger of popup ads?
As of 2017, Google introduced new rules that meant popup ads should not cover up content on mobile webpages. If these rules are ignored, Google may penalize a site – leading to a fall in website traffic and visibility online.
Popup Ads Conclusion
Popups should always be used as a vehicle, never as the “be-all, end-all” of your promotions.
A popup alone won’t suddenly turn your visitors into product-crazy consumers, but when used together with your other marketing initiatives such as split testing, landing pages, and continuous conversion optimization, they can work hard to deliver the best possible user experience.
After all, popups have certainly come a long way since the early days of the web.
Which one is your favorite? Have you used one that isn’t included in this list? Tell us in the comments!