You Can't Avoid Ad Avoidance


In a twist on John Wanamaker's famous quote, research suggests that more than half of consumers hate what advertisers do for a living. In an online survey conducted by Vizu Answers against a broad sample of more than 2,000 Internet users, 56 percent of respondents said they want to eliminate all advertising, while only 44 percent accept advertising as it is. Even more bleak, 72 percent said they find advertising "annoying" or "extremely annoying."

While their dislike of advertising may not be new or even surprising, the degree to which consumers hate ads, and the actions they can and do take to avoid them today, is a concern for the entire industry.


Asked which medium's ads they "go to the most effort to avoid," Internet outpaces all other media, with 36 percent of respondents choosing Web ads as the biggest headache, and 28 percent pointing to TV.

On a related question -- "What media has the most invasive and irritating advertisements?" -- the Internet again gets top billing, with nearly 48 percent of respondents choosing it. TV is no slouch in this category either -- with 27 percent of respondents choosing it, TV ranks as the No. 2 most intrusive and irritating medium.

Consumers' displeasure with TV ads led to 42 percent noting they'd "pay an extra $20 per month to avoid ads." (That's in addition to what they pay for cable.)

The marketplace confirms the distaste for ads, with one in five households owning a DVR -- a device used to avoid ads as much as to time-shift media consumption.

At first I was heartened to see that only 10 percent of responding consumers were willing to pay $20 per month to avoid ads on the Internet. Upon further consideration, however, it seemed obvious that consumers would be reluctant to pay for something they now get for free. Some 79 percent of survey respondents said they already had a pop-up blocker of some sort, and 43 percent said they already had ad-blocking software.

By way of illustration, Norton's Internet Security software had ad-blocking built in because, as its product people told me, "our customers wanted it." And the increasingly popular Firefox browser has a simple, free and downloadable add-on that strips out display advertising on Web pages.

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