Who Thinks Digital Ads Are Improving?

October 7, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Creative & Formats | Digital | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Tablet | Video | Youth & Gen X

adi-consumer-perception-digital-ads-oct2016American adults are almost twice as likely to dislike than like advertising, and digital ads – particularly intrusive ones such as pop-ups – tend to be more disliked than traditional media ads, per recent research. Now, a new study from Adobe Digital Insights takes a look at how various age groups feel about online ads.

The survey of 1,000 US adults finds that older Millennials (25-34) are the most skeptical about digital ads’ improvement. Asked about advertisers’ ability to show more valuable or compelling ads compared to 2 years ago, 38% of this age group said that the ads have become worse, compared to 37% saying they’ve improved. (The remaining 25% feel that advertisers’ ability to show valuable or compelling ads has stayed the same.)

By contrast, 18-24-year-olds were more likely to say that advertisers’ ability has improved (40%) rather than worsened (28%), as were adults aged 35 and older (37% and 30%, respectively).

While that suggests that older Millennials are the most unsure about digital ads, this age band actually emerged as the one most likely to find online ads interesting. Some 63% said that marketers are effective at providing interesting ads, compared to 55% of 18-24-year-olds and 54% of adults aged 35 and up.

The 25-34 set was also the most willing to watch intrusive ads. About 1 in 3 (34%) reported being willing to watch ads that automatically play music or other sounds, although that was trumped by the 42% unwilling to do so. Nevertheless, the 25-34 group was more split on this measure than the other age groups: the 18-24 set was more than twice as likely to be unwilling as willing (52% vs. 21%) to watch these ads, and the 35+ bracket was likewise far more unwilling than willing (48% vs. 23%). (Automatic sound in mobile video ads is a turn-off for about half of internet users, and most will discontinue watching them.)

Similarly, older Millennials show more willingness to watch ads that pop up after a new link is clicked: 33% said they would do so, compared to the 43% who are unwilling. By contrast, 18-24-year-olds were 6 times more unwilling than willing (66% and 11%, respectively), and adults 35 and up were more than twice as unwilling as willing (53% and 22%, respectively).

So while older Millennials aren’t sold on ads’ improvement, they’re the most receptive to them.

The study contains other intriguing results relating to adults’ perception of digital advertising:

  • Consumers say they see the most interesting and relevant ads when they’re browsing the web for information (37%) and in social media (31%), but fewer say the best ads are seen in video (19%) or mobile apps not related to social media (11%);
  • Facebook (41%) is easily the social platform that respondents feel does the best job of showing interesting and relevant ads, with the second-placed Instagram much further back (6%);
  • Almost 6 in 10 18-24-year-olds are annoyed by the length of video ads, a far higher rate than 25-34-year-olds (36%) and those aged 35 and older (30%);
  • The inability to skip an ad (57%) is the most annoying element of an online video ad, followed by the video starting automatically (37%), the ad length (35%) and the audio starting automatically (33%);
  • Consumers are almost twice as likely to stop watching (48%) as continue watching (28%) an ad that can’t be skipped (more on attention to video ads here); and
  • While 71% agree that they try to skip ads as soon as they can, respondents are more likely to disagree (40%) than agree (37%) that they would be willing to pay in order to avoid seeing ads.

See here for consumers’ responses regarding the factors that would drive greater engagement with ads in online TV content.

For primary research about the types of ads that are most likely to influence US adults’ purchases, see MarketingCharts’ 3rd annual Advertising Channels With the Largest Purchase Influence on Consumers study.

About the Data: The Adobe Digital Insights data is based on a survey of more than 1,000 US adults conducted in mid-August 2016.

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