A Console Comeback

Stephen Yagielowicz

Recently, I wrote an editorial about Webmaster's changing attitudes towards consoles, those ubiquitous new Windows that pop-up (and under) the browser Window you are currently using. This inspired some thoughtful responses from XBiz readers that I would like to share, along with some copy-n-paste code:

I finished off the previous article stating that while I believe surfers hate an excessive amount of consoles, one targeted console per site should never be a problem, and the fact that they do increase revenues when properly and moderately used should be an online marketer's first concern. The bottom line should always be 'the bottom line' — and when properly implemented, consoles can increase your revenues.

In response, TheMarketingGuy had this to say: "While it's possible that a percentage of the users who responded "[because] Surfers Hate Them" actually tested the technique on their own surfers visiting their site and came to the above conclusion based on the results of that test, I think it's more likely that a far greater percentage based that conclusion on "common knowledge" on the Internet, which is a shame.

Those who responded "[because] I Hate Them" are an entirely different story... If they're using that as a way to position themselves as "different" from their competitor, then I suppose that's fine... But I doubt it. If I could ask them a question it would simply be "who are you making your site for?" Again, I think everything you said is true. Properly used, they can be extremely effective, but the only way anyone will know for sure if they'll be effective for them is to toss the assumptions to the side and do a little testing."

jah had this to add: "I definitely agree that used in moderation, the console would be a great marketing tool. However, the problem lies with knowing what the site you have taken your visitor to is doing. Some are popping up another 3 Consoles, others are trying to download some software onto your computer, or both. Before you know it, a never ending pop up hell is often started. RESEARCHING your partners and finding out how far the "chain" will go is vital, to prevent an almost never ending nightmare."

I believe that the lesson to be learned here (whether you personally use consoles or not) is to test not only your own site, but what happens to surfers who leave your site to visit a sponsor or other linked site. If you launch an exit console or two, and the destination site launches an enter console or two, the surfer will most likely become overwhelmed, and if your business model relies on repeat visitors, this will work against you.

Rickyracer added "I voted in the poll and do not use consoles because surfers hate them. What began as a great idea as a tool to welcome or pass along legit info to surfers was soon abused and manipulated for self serving interests and eventually for the adult biz, became CJ's for too many sites, thus giving a bad rap to responsible users of Pop-Ups. I'd rather have the surfer join one of our sites or buy some our merchandise rather than make a few bucks off a sponsor anyway. If we want to promote a sponsor, we'll give him a link on our site."

To which burek replied "there is nothing wrong with bit of pop-up or pop-under. As long as you have full control of it, i.e.: loading stuff that you control, off your server. For example, special promotions, news, deals, etc. You name it. For your own site(s), if you don't like sending traffic to sponsors or such. Having smart, useful pop-ups will just as well build credibility with customers:"

A Better Idea
Given this thoughtful input, I have reconsidered the use of consoles, and while I still believe that they are an effective method of increasing revenues, I have a few suggestions on some 'more productive' uses for them. As always, your mileage may vary, and these ideas may not fit in with your operation, they will allow you to gain the benefits of using pop-ups, without incurring some of their drawbacks.

For instance, if you have a pay site, targeted pop-ups are a great way to cycle traffic through your offerings, assuming that you run more than one site. There is nothing new in this, and the common practice of using the last console to send traffic to outside sites (the pay site's own sponsors) will not likely end soon, but perhaps a better use of pay site pop-ups might be to fire an email collection box console for traffic exiting the 'Join' page, and why not a console with a 'special' discounted renewal offer for ex-members leaving your 'Cancel' page? Both of these 'in-house' solutions allow you to profit from existing traffic without losing the surfer to another site.

I still believe that all sites can increase revenues while 'helping' visitors by popping one small text only exit console that offers surfers an alternative content source. This will guide much of your 'mistaken' traffic (those surfers who click the wrong link, and mistakenly enter your site. Try half a dozen or so big, bold text links that say simply: TEENS, ASIANS, AMATEURS, etc. Quick loading and inoffensive, these consoles can be quite productive.

Another of my favorite uses for consoles involve the so-called 'stealth' or pop-under, which pops a new window that is only visible after the surfer closes his current browser window. While I used to do quite well with these when promoting a sponsor site, I now think that other types of programs would benefit from this approach, and the reason for this is simple: if the main browser window is closed, it's likely that the prospect has already blown his or her load, and might be interested in something more than more porn — like one of the popular 'cleaner' programs, which may have great appeal to someone who was just scouring the Web's nether regions for illicit material.

On a similar subject, a discussion on the 'Traffic Signals' board centered around the 'best type of pop-under' consoles, and provided us with two different approaches to solving the same problem. Our own junkiefred ( provided this simple pop-under script that is placed between your HEAD /HEAD> tags:

SCRIPT language="Javascript">'', 'winin','toolbar=0,menubar=0,scrollbars=0,status=0,resizable=0,width=540,height=580');




danndeb (Danny then provided us with this easy copy-and-paste pop-under script. Simply insert the following code into your HEAD /HEAD tags. Change var popunder to the URL you want to pop, and set at 0 to pop the console every time the page loads, or 1 to pop it only once per session. This is a great feature that uses cookies to help prevent multiple copies of your console from 'stacking up' behind the main browser window. The second example inherits the launching window's properties, but will only fire once per visit, if you so desire.


var popunder=""

//Pop-under only once per browser session? (0=no, 1=yes) //Specifying 0 will cause popunder to load every time page is loaded var once_per_session=1

///No editing beyond here required/////

function get_cookie(Name) {
var search = Name + "="
var returnvalue = "";
if (document.cookie.length > 0) {
offset = document.cookie.indexOf(search)
if (offset != -1) { // if cookie exists
offset += search.length
// set index of beginning of value
end = document.cookie.indexOf(";", offset);
// set index of end of cookie value
if (end == -1)
end = document.cookie.length;
returnvalue=unescape(document.cookie.substring(offset, end))
return returnvalue;

function loadornot(){
if (get_cookie('popunder')==''){

function loadpopunder(){

if (once_per_session==0)


The first example allows you to specify the new window's properties, including size and features, and it will pop every time the 'launching' page loads. The second example inherits the launching window's properties, but will only fire once per visit, if you so desire. In either case, don't forget to replace the example URL with one of your own.

If you're one of those Webmasters who overuse consoles, perhaps you should consider scaling back to one. If you're one of those who doesn't use consoles, then perhaps you might want to try a pop-under or small exit console, after all, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and with the above code snippets, it's as easy as copy-n-paste! ~ Stephen