Advertisements were around long before the internet. But more than print, radio or television ever did, the internet has pervaded our lives as a very personal form of media, and consumer reactions to online ads reflect that.
To learn more about how people truly feel about the ads they see on the internet, let’s take a look at the 2016 Adobe Digital Insights Advertising Demand Report.
From Approval to Ad-Blocking, Consumers Respond to Digital Ads
Consumers seem to think ads have improved over the years of digital advancement. Along with this, their expectations of online ads, and how they’re presented to consumers, have grown.
Starting on a positive note, Adobe’s report says 68 percent of consumers think digital ads have improved or stayed the same in recent years. In addition, 57 percent of adults think advertisers are good at creating interesting ads (among Millennials it’s 63 percent).
Of course, those same consumers see plenty of room for improvement. While 78 percent appreciate the personalized ads they see on places like social media, only 28 percent think such ads are tailored correctly. If consumers are busy watching videos or using apps, they’re less likely to notice the ads than they are when simply browsing Facebook, for example.
Speaking of Facebook, it’s rated the best, by far, at delivering interesting and relevant ads. As the leader of top-rated social media sites with advertising, it’s preferred by 41 percent of consumers.
Well-crafted Facebook ads can have a positive impact on television campaigns. In our recent post about using Facebook ads to enhance television advertising, we discussed a survey that compared participants’ responses to Facebook and TV ads for the same campaign.
Participants who saw a Facebook ad before a television ad were more engaged and emotional about what they saw than those who saw two television ads. Further, seeing the Facebook ad first made them more likely to buy after seeing the TV ad. The Facebook advertising seemed to build excitement, kind of like the trailer for a movie.
Back to the Adobe report—certain ads certainly turn consumers off. Adults under 25 have an especially low tolerance for things they see as intrusive in an ad’s presentation.
For ads that automatically play music or other sounds, 52 percent of those aged 18 to 24 are unwilling to watch them, and only 21 percent are willing to give them a try. Pop-up ads are even less popular, with 66 percent of those aged 18-24 unwilling to watch them, and only 11 percent willing to give them a try. Other age groups also dislike these ads, but to a lesser extent.
Consumers want to see their digital ads capped for frequency and monitored for length. Ad blockers are used by 19 percent of desktop users and 21 percent of smartphone users due to ads showing too often. One-third of consumers think ads are too long, and 58 percent of adults under 25 feel this way.
Here’s a big one—what’s the single most annoying thing about online ads? An inability to skip them. With 57 percent of consumers rating this the worst thing about an ad, it well outpaces the other annoyances of automatic play (37 percent) and length (35 percent). Not only are consumers annoyed, but 48 percent will simply stop watching.
For the 71 percent of people who try to skip ads, only 37 percent would pay to avoid them altogether (though 40 percent would pay). Instead, they use ad blockers to express dissatisfaction.
In fact, the use of ad blockers is on the rise. Since 2013, it’s quadrupled to 220 million globally, and much of that is in Europe. The United States, with a huge internet user base, has the potential to increase ad blocker use by 23 million people.
In an interesting twist, advertisers have found ways to target ad blockers without showing the ad itself. A great example is Netflix’s dark series “Black Mirror,” which sent out a cryptic message that plays on the show’s themes of technology and paranoia to consumers using ad blockers. The non-ad suggests that, even though the viewer can’t see the ad, the ad can see them. Not all publishers agreed to run the image, but no one can deny its cleverness!
Still, 89 percent of ad blocker users plan to continue blocking ads (though 14 percent of consumers plan not to use them). The thing is, ad blockers have an effect on advertisers and the companies themselves.
For advertisers, the takeaway is likely to reign in targeting and implement some caps on frequency. For the tech companies, ad blocker growth is something to watch, as too few eyes on ads can certainly impact revenue.
There’s no question that the internet is going to continue growing as an advertising channel. Along with that, consumers will keep finding ways to dodge ads. Advertisers who stay one step ahead, and serve ads that are interesting and relevant, will have better luck ensuring their ads get seen.