The majority of global consumers are still finding online ads annoying, with half calling for a ‘dislike’ button on Facebook to vent their frustrations with a brand, according to new research.
The study, called ‘Click Here: The State of Online Advertising’ from Adobe, indicates that marketers are missing a powerful opportunity to engage with consumers and deliver personalized experiences that drive brand affinity.
Adobe polled both consumers and marketers in seven countries across the United States, Asia-Pacific and Europe.
Of those interviews, 62% believed online ads were "annoying", while 45% found them "invasive" and 44% "distracting".
Despite the negative perception of online ads among many of the respondents, web ads still appeared in the top three preferred advertising methods in the UK - the only country where this was the case.
In terms of social media such as Facebook, 49% of respondents said they would like to see a "dislike" option for a brand, while 76% of those surveyed said that targeted ads based on online behaviour could be "creepy".
The study revealed that a significant portion of consumers and marketers feel online advertising is still not effective (consumers 32%; marketers 21%).
Marketers in the US and Europe were the most dismissive of online advertising.
"Banners have brought much of the worst characteristics of advertising - being intrusive and manipulative, catching one's eye with hyperbole, and using surreptitiously-captured information - into the digital space," commented David C. Edelman, global co-leader, Digital Marketing and Sales Practice, McKinsey & Company.
"Consumers realize they are now in control and won't accept it. Yet, beyond banners, there is a lot of online marketing content that consumers do interact with, and the era of creativity to explore what works is just beginning. The best marketers will focus on building their muscles in data to drive relevance, design to generate an experience that makes consumers feel good, and delivery to bring it on-demand. And as a side benefit, as consumers appreciate those experiences more, they will also value the marketing profession more highly, helping it attract the talent that will drive the right virtuous cycle."
Print and TV score higher than digital for credibility
Traditional media such as print and TV received higher scores for credibility and effectiveness among consumers and marketers in all regions (traditional media 94% consumers; 91% marketers; modern/digital sources 52% consumers; 68% marketers).
Respondents in Asia-Pacific were most likely to enjoy TV and print ads (42%), followed by European consumers (36%) and U.S. consumers (31%). Interestingly, text message ads in Asia-Pacific (34% consumers; 24% marketers) are not considered annoying compared to the U.S. (62% consumers; 59% marketers) and Europe (62% consumers; 57% marketers).
"Digital marketing has created a remarkable opportunity, but it comes with higher expectations from consumers. They expect a story tailored specially for them, a level of trust and transparency with the brands they do business with and, most importantly, a great experience. Brands delivering anything less will ultimately be ignored," said Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer, Adobe. "These survey results demonstrate that we aren't quite delivering on digital marketing's full potential yet. We now have the technology and know-how to target relevant and personalized marketing messaging and media to our customers. Shame on us, if we don't deliver on that."
Asia Pacific less concerned with privacy
Across all regions, one-third of respondents agreed it is valuable when a website makes personalized product and service recommendations.
Respondents in Asia-Pacific were less concerned than those in the U.S. and Europe about sharing private information in exchange for more personalized and customized experiences online.
More specifically, respondents said they were comfortable with targeted advertising based on their behaviors (U.S.74%; Asia-Pacific 63%; Europe 71%). However, some actions, like being asked to share personal information such as a government-issued ID number (e.g., a social security number) were viewed as crossing the privacy line (U.S.86%; Asia-Pacific 55%; Europe 60%).
Opinion of Marketers
According to respondents, the marketing profession was consistently ranked as one of the least valuable to society, although the profession is viewed most positively by consumers (24%) and marketers (47%) in Asia-Pacific.
While marketers across the regions (U.S. 45%; Asia-Pacific 25%; Europe 28%) agree that marketing primarily helps inform consumers on brands, products and services, in Asia-Pacific, a significant percentage of marketers think it both educates (15%) and reflects and shapes cultures (14%).
Further, U.S. consumers "like" brands they regularly buy (53%) or that have promotions (46%), while consumers in Asia-Pacific (33%) and Europe (26%) are more driven to "like" by aspirations and brand personality (40%).