The New York Times Online has been the first Web site to introduce half-page ads, then several others online publications have followed. After several months of practicing this format, it's interesting to read Zach Rodgers's (looks like he's becoming one of my favourite authors :-) article on Turbo Ads presenting agencies opinions.
Audi is happy with it as McKinney's Interactive Supervisor Erin Bredemann says:
We felt it was a great way to highlight Audi brand while also increasing awareness of dealers in area".
In general, experts in the industry seem to agree this is an interesting tool for online brand promotions, however it's still early to say whether it's really effective.
Personally, as a user, I'm not annoyed by this format, because most of the times it's just nice to look at it. There has been a lot of creative work on it and it focus on brand promotion, not on hard selling. I mean, it's a pleasant user experience.
As for pop-up windows, if they're placed in context and graphically nice, I believe they will prove as an effective tool for online strategists.