I've been noticing an increase in sites that are using a dropdown / popup sharing and search panel
(The main site of note being http://www.uxmatters.com/)
Is there any research into whether this aids or hinders usability? Is this actually a useful feature of websites? My personal opinion is that it distracts me from the content of the site - it appears just as I start scrolling to read the content and thus pulls my eyeline off the content and onto the new popup. However, I don't just want my subjective opinion, has there been and studies on features like this?
All I can find is from the website of the main company responsible for this feature - http://www.apture.com/ who state:
Apture Search Is a Proven Win
The data doesn't lie - Apture increases visitor engagement by leaps and bounds. We help you track your visitor data and how effective our tool is for you. There's no downside.
Naturally, I'm loathed to believe their own sales pitch, however with the growing ubiquity of it, and it's inclusion on UX MATTERS I'm curious as to it's benefits.