New Study Highlights How Much People Dislike Digital Ads

48% of respondents would abandon a website or app if it crashed

Pop-up ads that obstruct content were a pet peeve for 57% of survey respondents. alashi/iStock

Social networks make announcement after announcement touting the increasing effectiveness of their ad-targeting capabilities, and most media companies build their economic models around a menu of digital display advertising options for clients, but according to a new study, the people they are targeting are far from impressed.

Digital experience management platform Instart Logic teamed up with market research outfit Propeller Insights on a survey of more than 1,000 adults in the U.S., and it found that respondents were annoyed with their ad experiences across the digital universe—from social media sites (45 percent) to retail sites (36 percent) and news sites (34 percent).

More than one-half (51 percent) of respondents believe, much to a sales team’s dismay, that websites should host fewer ads—44 percent cited two as the limit—while pop-up ads that obstruct content were a pet peeve for 57 percent, with 50 percent also irritated by ads that take up the entire screen.

The survey also found that 42 percent of respondents were annoyed by pop-up ads that interrupt their shopping experiences on retail sites, and the same number expressed disappointment with slow-loading retail sites.

Now, if media companies listened to consumers, they might approach ad strategies in a different manner. The top three suggestions from respondents on how advertisers can improve their online and mobile experience were: fewer pop-up ads (57 percent), fewer ads in general (51.4 percent) and not blocking content users are trying to read or watch (50.7 percent).

An even more pressing issue than quality or quantity of ads is how those ads affect the performance of websites or apps, with 48 percent of respondents saying they would abandon a site or app if it crashed. Even worse, 36 percent said they would never visit that site or app again, and one-quarter would opt for a competitor instead. Media companies, this research seems to say, need to align their ad experiences with their customer’s expectations of experiencing the site.

The report also found that online denizens find social ads to be like that of a mosquito that flies near your ear. Instart Logic general manager of advertising and media Chris Binstadt attributed the issues with social ads to consumers becoming smarter rather than any shortcomings by the various social platforms.

Binstadt said, “Consumers have become savvier about exactly what they want to see and how they want to see it. As the space has matured and advanced, at the same time, consumers have become much more picky and fickle.”

Binstadt added that native ads on social platforms are becoming more and more integrated within content, as well as more spot-on in terms of relevancy to the user. After all, he said, “a perfect ad is perceived as content.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.