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Online advertising: New report reveals consumers' biggest gripe - and how to fix it

May 30, 2023

By Jesse Brewer, vice president, head of sales and operations, ads at Wunderkind

There’s a disconnect in the world of internet advertising.

Brands can leverage the internet to get in front of nearly any audience with laser-like precision, and they continue to invest in new ways to do so. Advertisers spend billions of dollars on smart, creative, attention-grabbing digital ads to do just that — but these ads are often intrusive, annoying, and therefore ineffective.

But are ads supposed to be intrusive? Is that the value exchange publishers want to have with their readers — free content that you can access if you have the patience to navigate past all the ads that get in your way?

Maybe 10 years ago that was considered a fair tradeoff, but no longer. The internet has evolved. Technology has advanced. Today, advertisers and publishers can capture the attention of visitors without annoying them. It’s just a matter of doing things a bit differently and taking a user-first approach to advertising.

In other words, just be kind.

We recently conducted a research study examining consumers’ attitudes about online advertising, and found that how an ad is presented to viewers is just as important (if not more) than the ad itself.

In other words, all the money spent on great creative and precision targeting is money wasted if that creative is presented in an interruptive or annoying way.

Intrusive Advertising

According to the Kindness In Advertising report conducted with research firm Attest, consumers are highly dissatisfied with their advertising experience across digital channels. Takeover ads blocking entrance, in-feed ads interrupting an article, or autoplay video ads overlapping text are among the top culprits disrupting the user experience.

  • 95% of users find ads interruptive to the experience of trying to consume their content of choice
  • 92% of consumers feel digital ads have become more intrusive over the last few years

So why are advertisers still doing it? The simple answer is that it’s easy and cheap. In other words, it’s lazy.

Consider the consequences. According to this report, consumers blame both the advertiser and the site when they are confronted with intrusive ads like this:

  • 75% feel website publishers do not respect their digital experience

  • 70% feel advertisers aren’t respectful toward their digital experience.

Ad Blocking and Blaming

What’s more, the steps consumers take to avoid intrusive ads wind up blocking potentially helpful ads in the process. The study found that 63% install AdBlock because they find ads “intrusive,” “annoying,” and/or “disruptive.” Plus, 52% who do not already have AdBlock installed have recently considered installing it following an irksome experience.

It’s a classic lose-lose situation. When consumers employ ad-blocking software, advertisers lose the ability to reach their target audience, and publishers lose out on much-needed advertising revenue, and both take the blame.

It gets worse — 88% are unlikely to return to a site that interrupts or blocks their experience, 76% have a negative perception of advertisers that use disruptive ads, and 91% will not purchase from an advertiser with intrusive or annoying ad experiences.

Effective Advertising Solutions

So what’s the solution? Again — be kind. Choose solutions that allow for more empathetic advertising toward the user experience. The more seamless and elegant the ad experience, the more receptive the user will be. For instance, we recently introduced our WunderKIND Ads solution to give brands the ability to serve ads only after visitors have finished consuming the publisher’s website content.

We use technology that recognizes real-time disengagement behaviors to find and serve visitors ads at a more appropriate time across our marketplace of premium publisher websites. The result is an ad experience that’s not only kinder, but more effective. According to the Kindness in Advertising report:

  • 68% are most likely to engage with an ad when completely disengaged from content
  • 60% prefer to see ads only when they’ve finished engaging with the publisher's content

Poor user experiences hamstring everyone involved in the digital marketplace — the advertiser, publisher and consumer alike. Giving users what they want through a two-way value exchange is a far better approach. Users are not opposed to all advertising, they’re just opposed to disruptive experiences. Fix the experience, and you’ll fix many of your advertising problems.

Download Wunderkind’s full Kindness In Advertising report here.


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