The inventor of the Internet pop-up ad wrote a long post this week decrying the state of the ad-supported web. In it, he said he was sorry about creating the pop-up and tells the story of how and why it came to be (a very interesting story by the way).
It’s been a long time since the days of the pop-up (circa 2001-2004) but many remember them. Those newer to the space may not realize that the pop-up ad was actually far less relevant to the world of digital media than its cousin, the pop-under.
The pop-up ad acted exactly as it is named. A new browser would “pop-up” and over the content that the user was viewing. It was very intrusive and therefore used mostly across the long tail of websites and as a tool for adware firms.
The pop-under was different. It would be launched under or actually behind the browser. The user would only see it when they closed the browser down.
Being fairly large in size (720x300 pixels), and not having to compete with anything else for the user’s attention, the pop-under was very effective, much more effective than pop-ups. It was not uncommon to see click-through rates from 2%-5%, sometimes even higher.
And because it was less intrusive to the user experience than the pop-up, it was embraced by almost every publisher at the time. Keep in mind that this was post dot-com bust and post 9/11. The digital advertising economy was quite depressed. Standard banner ads were, in many cases, being bought on clicks (not even on a CPM) so pop-unders were one of the most reliable revenue sources a publisher could adopt. Check out some of the names in this CNET article from 2004.
Advertisers like Netflix, Lower My Bills and Orbitz (example below) ran a lot of pop-unders because they worked so well.
A few firms (including Undertone) focused on pop-unders and it was a very competitive market for supply for a few years.
The IAB even created a task force around it. Pop-unders were a hot topic.
This all changed around 2004. An improved economy drove ad dollars back into digital media. Google launched AdSense which helped publishers drive better yield for standard banner ads. And finally toolbars by Google, Yahoo and ultimately Microsoft’s IE browser (this was when Microsoft had 90%+ market share in the browser market) implemented pop-up blockers. The market eventually moved on.
But for a time, it was one of the most important ad formats in digital media.
This week Pando ran a post from an anonymous angel investor who apparently did not invest in a group of cofounders because they drove up to the pitch meeting in luxury cars. And luxury cars, to this investor, signals that an entrepreneur is not ready to “suffer” for the business.
While I understand this view, I completely disagree with it.*
On this basis, the angel would have turned away Evan Williams (supposedly drives/drove a Porsche) or Jack Dorsey (drives a M3). I don’t know about you, but those are guys I would bet on almost without hesitation.
Investing is an inexact science and it’s important to have a list of criteria and stick to it, but trust fund babies aside, the car the entrepreneur drives is one I would not include.
Personally I think the idea, the market, early traction and yes, certain traits of the founder trump appearances and artifacts of past success.
In fact, you could flip this around and say that betting on a previous winner – your serial entrepreneurs like a Williams or Dorsey - can be a very good idea. Success and winning can create a burning desire to to do it again. And do it bigger.
This post somewhat glamourizes the stereotype of the startup founder – broke or barely scraping by and spends every waking hour working on the company to the detriment of his own personal interests, relationships and health.
From experience I can tell you that while first time founders almost always go through this, being so imbalanced becomes counterproductive at some point. But that’s a topic for another post.
*By the way, my daily driver is a 2006 Subaru Outback, lest you think I’m being defensive :)
Date: May 31, 2014
Race: 4.5 miles, 21+ obstacles
Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Place: 2117 out of 5631 overall (top 38% ranking)
This will be the third and final update on my experiment with the Slow Carb Diet (SCD).
This month, I lost only one pound. And I’m totally fine with that. Scratch that, I’m happy about it. Two reasons why:
For the month of March I was on the road literally half the month. 15 out of the first 28 days. Or as Sara who helps me with my travel commented, no more than 4 consecutive days in the same time zone. And they were the kind of trips that were not conducive to dieting… Think SXSW for five days, followed by 3 more conferences. I’m more than happy to have maintained and even dropped a pound after all that.
Second, I am happy with the results. I lost 23 pounds. Enough to make me feel great all the time and have to update my entire wardrobe, amongst other things. So it basically took 2 months for the SCD to help me drop most of my excess body fat, and is flexible enough to adapt to the most adverse travel schedule, which are just a few reasons that I continue to be a believer in it for anyone.
So what’s next?
I still want to drop a few pounds. And since I haven’t changed any variables besides diet, the next step is to experiment with changes in exercise. I feel ready to use my new, lighter body for some athletic purpose. Finally, I want to have another goal to shoot for that’s not just about the scale or body fat reading.
So… I signed up for a Spartan Race (learn more at www.spartanrace.com). I have 2 months to go.
I have begun to ramp up the volume of my usual HIT workouts, which I believe is the best way train for anything, and have begun running and testing some movements like burpees, box jumps and tire flips. I continue to eat SCD. So far I’m having a lot of fun and feeling very motivated. Nothing like a date to put it on the line to get you going!
Further updates to come on my training and progress. Until then, it’s time to #STFU (Spartan The F- Up!)
Month 2 on the slow carb diet (SCD) experiment is now in the books (here is my post after the first month). I lost an additional 6.8 pounds of bodyfat in February, bringing the total to 21.4 pounds.
I have made no changes in exercise or supplements (I’m not taking any), so all results continue to be from diet alone. It’s also been a fairly busy month at work for me, including travel, dinners, TV appearances, cocktail parties, etc. And I continue to progress as long as I stick to the program.
Fat loss is a relative thing. 20 pounds is a lot to some, not so much to others. For me 20 pounds means I dropped a pants size, my suits are much looser, I feel much better throughout the day and there is a very visible difference in my appearance. These pics are about a month apart:
Here is a typical day of eating:
Meal 1: 20g whey protein in water, coffee
Meal 2: Egg white, spinach, tomato and feta scramble (from a place near my office)
Meal 3: Burrito Bowl from Chipotle (chicken, black beans, vegetables, salsa, guacamole… no rice, no cheese)
Meal 4: Some kind of protein (steak, fish or chicken) and vegetable (easy to stick to if you are eating out)
I’ll drink espresso, black coffee and water throughout the day, have a coke zero at lunch and a glass or two of red wine at dinner at least a few times a week.
That’s it. Cheat days are Saturday and they seem to have no ill effect (other than making me sick and not want to look at non-SCD food for another week).
Generally I’m able to get 2 workouts a week in, one being focused on conditioning (lately it has been Tabata intervals on the Air Dyne) and core stability, the other a high-intensity strength workout where I use hammer strength and nautilus machines at a very slow repetition speed to muscular failure. Both of them are very intense but require little time.
There are three key reasons for why this has worked so well:
I still have some bodyfat to lose, but since the program continues to work I am not going to change anything (although I am tempted to in an effort to get there faster. But I know that there’s a good chance I will screw something up such as overtrain and lost muscle, so I am able to resist). When/if I do plateau, it will be easy to modify things.
Lots of travel next month, so it will be interesting to see what happens!
The last post on my progress with the Slow Carb Diet (SCD) was one of the most popular ever on this blog. Since there is clear interest in body transformation I’ll try to write more on the topic.
First, an update: 6 weeks into the SCD and I am down 18.4 pounds of body fat. I am down under 200 pounds for the first time in years. I haven’t made any changes to the program and in fact dropped the supplements last week because I got tired of taking them. In addition, I was tested for the first time last week with a trip to a conference in Palm Springs. The subject of dieting on the road is a post within itself (maybe the next one), but I was able to manage just fine.
Sometimes you read things like body transformations or bodybuilding programs are 80% diet, 20% training or some other percentage. My old bodybuilding mentor Mike Mentzer (RIP) used to make fun of these proclamations, saying that they imply that if you just eat right, you can get 80% of the results of a program.
The SCD program has challenged thinking a bit for me. I haven’t changed my training at all, yet I am rapidly losing body fat and maintaining lean body mass. In fact my training is so minimal (but intense) that you can write them on an index card. You can attribute 100% of my results to diet.
I’m sure that high intensity training is helping to maintain lean body mass. It also could be that getting the last 10 pounds off will require some changes in training. But based on this experiment with the SCD, I think that the old bodybuilding lore rings true after all.
That, and “white carbs” are downright evil.
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