Majority of U.S. Consumers 'Peeved' by Internet Ads

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Includes: AABA, GOOG, IAC, MSFT
by: Marketing Charts

At the same time as many internet advertisers are ramping up their web advertising efforts, the majority of US consumers say they are very frustrated by many common types of internet ads, according to (pdf) a recent study by Harris Interactive, which cites pop-ups, ads that are “moused over,” difficult-to-close ads, and musical ads as some of the worst offenders.

Ads that spread across the page and cover the content beneath them are the most vexing for consumers, with 80% of respondents in the study deeming these types to be very frustrating. Ads on which consumers can’t find the skip or close button are a close second, with 79% of respondents similarly annoyed, the survey found.

Digital Most Used

Despite these consumer frustrations, the survey revealed a definite trend toward online advertising and a move away from traditional print and broadcast. In what can only be considered bad news for consumers frustrated by online ads, more than nine in 10 (92%) advertisers also polled in the survey say they typically incorporate internet advertising into their media campaigns. Nearly as many (88%) say they are incorporating print advertising.

At the same time, less than half say they typically incorporate radio advertising (46%), TV advertising (46%) and digital advertising, such as cell-phone ads (39%).

Change from Last Year

Among those advertisers who are using each of these types of media, there is a difference in the level of their usage since last year. Three-fourths of those who use internet advertising (74%) say they are incorporating it more often while 69% of those who use digital advertising are incorporating it more often when compared with a year ago.

Just under half (48%) of those who use TV advertising are using it the same amount as last year, but 38% are using TV less, the survey found. Those who use radio advertising are split: 46% are using it the same amount while 43% are using it less often. The largest drop is with print advertising, as half (49%) of those who use it are using it less often relative to a year ago and 41% are using it the same amount.

Internet Advertising

Among those who use internet advertising, just 14% say they only use it as a standalone digital campaign, while more than half (54%) say they use it in an integrated campaign with other media. One-third (33%) use internet advertising in both types of campaign equally.

Additionally, the survey found that internet advertising is being used in a broad number of ways:

  • 79% of advertisers who use it say they use it as as a branding device.
  • 65% use it to drive information gathering for an offline transaction.
  • 58% use internet advertising to drive online transactions.
  • 57% say they use it to promote community around their brand, through such things as message boards, memberships and fan clubs.

Harris said that the results of this study suggest that this growing trend toward internet advertising in the face of large numbers of frustrated consumers may eventually cause a backlash. The firm suggests that advertisers who come up with more engaging ways to connect with consumers will ultimately be the most successful.

Separate research shows that some segments of the population, especially those who currently download music through file-sharing services, are willing to view internet ads in exchange for free, legal music.

About the survey: The research consisted of an online survey of of 1,015 advertisers from agencies or corporations who are involved in the advertising decision-making process and 2,025 US adults. The surveys took place June 22-30, 2009.