Snap, Crackle & Pop-up
Pop Goes the Weasel
Ads That “Pop”
1996 or early 1997, the first pop-ups began assaulting web audiences, primarily with advertising akin to banner ads that people tended to ignore. For the most part, it was a child’s savage tugging on a pant leg for attention, after a tantrum has gone unnoticed.
Ah, the “on-open” and “on-close” functions, aka “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” You get a pop-up just as a window opens (on-open), or when it’s closed (on-close), like some kind of nightmarish video game. You try to close the pop-ups as they hit your screen, but closing them generates more, and those spawn more as well. This was called “mousetrapping,” obstructing the visitor’s ability to exit, and is about as effective a form of marketing as throwing a stun grenade into a crowd and writing URLs on the woozy foreheads of the stricken.
Lost in the ever-shifting digital sands of the Web, there have been a number of novelty websites based on pop-ups. One was called the “black hole,” or some other cutely descriptive name, where you could go to crash your browser with pop-ups. For fun. This website was coded so it instantly generated multiple pop-ups that also generated multiple pop-ups. You can see where this went.
Over and Under and Through the Woods
The pop-under ad arrived on the scene in 1999 and is actually patented. Like a roach hiding under a rug, these ads surreptitiously lurk under the visitor’s browser window, only to emerge when the page is closed. Just when you thought you were safe – gotcha! Some ad sellers claim that pop-unders will outperform pop-up ads by almost 5-1, and, of course, increase their prices accordingly. Go figure.
Funny thing, first place on a poll of the worst pop-up ads: “Click here to stop pop-up adds!”
A Stain in Internet History
As more sophisticated advertising techniques have evolved on the Internet, the pop breed of ads have faded in use, but will likely always exist in one form or another.
Go Go Gadget Books!
Turn off your TV, radio, iPod or computer and consider…
Prior to the last hundred or so years, the only broadly available medium of “canned” entertainment was the good ol’ book. So, mechanical, or “pop-up,” books were once much more than the child’s plaything they typically are now.
For more than 700 years, the likes of artists, authors, philosophers, scientists, and (of course) book designers have been plying their ingenuity on the basic book format by adding flaps and moving parts that were either manipulated or activated by the turning of pages. In fact, not until the late 1700s would the use of mechanical books be used as entertainment.
A “volvelle” is a book with a rotating disc, the earliest known mechanical addition to books. They’ve been used for such varied purposes as making astronomical predictions, teaching anatomy, creating secret codes or interactive charts, and telling fortunes.
These books, which were also called “turn-up” books or “harlequinades,” were composed of one printed sheet, folded into fourths. They were cut so that each illustrated page had a split in the middle that could be opened, top and bottom, to reveal a changed picture with a verse that drove the story forward.
The “Toilet” Books
In the early 1800s, several “flip the lid” books were called toilet books, not because they looked like toilet seats though. They provided moral guidance on the nature of true beauty. The best rouge is “Modesty,” and the best wrinkle-smoother “Contentment.”
Pictured right: “The Enchanting Mirror” caption takes on new meaning when the mirror/lid is flipped to reveal “HUMILITY.”
Today, there are plenty of children’s pop-up books with between 200 and 300 published each year. But pop-ups have not been limited to the children’s market.
Artists and designers use a modern version of the volvelle when they use the Grumbacher color wheel. And major brands invest in high-end, and costly, mechanical media as a way of creating a unique high-impact effect on their market.