Following a recent announcement by Sina.com that they would be dropping pop-up advertisements, another Chinese portal website, Sohu.com, said yesterday that it won't accept pop-up advertising business on its homepage from this month.

The decision is a difficult one and may result in a heavy blow to the website's online advertising business, a key revenue resource for dotcom companies, according to industry insiders.

"Pop-ups have become the most attractive slots next to banners for ads placers", said a Sohu spokesman yesterday, cited by the Beijing Morning Post. A Sina spokesman echoed the same view, by saying income from pop-ups may top some 1 million (US$120,919) yuan each day for a website.

The two pop-up slots on Sina's homepage, for example, charge 120,000 yuan each. A slot on the news channel charges 100,000 yuan and that on a popular channel costs about 50,000 yuan. The lowest rate for a pop-up slot, such as that on a less popular channel, is more than 20,000 yuan. Sina has already sold out the pop-up slots for this year at the end of 2003, the spokesman said.

Analysts attribute the hot business of pop-ups to the high click-through rate, which is 2-5 percent on average compared with 0.35 percent of other online ads forms. But the pop-ups, standing out automatically when a web page is displayed, have roused many complaints from Netizens for delaying the download speed of pages.

Since last year, the global Internet market has started a program to force-out the disturbing pop-ups. Services by Google, for example, allow web users to download a special program to their browser that stops all pop-ups.

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