Digital Ad Overload Proves a Major Turn-Off For Consumers

February 27, 2012

upstream-digital-ad-overload-response-feb-2012.jpgTwo-thirds of adults in the US and UK say they receive too many digital marketing promotions and are exposed to too many ads, according to a survey released in February 2012 by Upstream, conducted by YouGov. Marketers beware: consumers will not be shy to act. Two-thirds say they would unsubscribe from a brand’s promotions if they thought the messages they were receiving were too frequent, while 27% in the UK and 20% in the US say they would stop using the brand’s product or service. 37% of UK respondents (and 28% of US adults) would respond negatively to future messages from that brand, and about 1 in 10 would protest on social media sites.

In general, 55% of the US consumers do not want to be targeted more than once a month, while the 18-24-year-old set are most tolerant of targeting as often as weekly or more (31%).

Ads Most Unwanted on Mobile Devices

When asked which device they would like to receive ads and promotions on, respondents (UK and US combined) cited PCs first (39%), followed by laptops (24%). Just 4% said their smartphones, and only 2% indicated tablets. Indeed, two-thirds the consumers say they are turned off by unwanted advertising on their mobile or smartphone.

Email Best Delivery Channel

Data from the “2012 Digital Advertising Attitudes Report” indicates that 34% of consumers prefer to receive ads and promotions via a detailed email, more than double the proportion who prefer a short text-only message such as a tweet, Facebook message, Google Adwords message, or SMS (15%). These are the same top 2 channels consumers recently cited for receiving updates from brands, though with a much narrower gap: according to survey results released in December 2011 by AYTM Market Research, short updates from Facebook and Twitter (32%) and emails (27%) ranked as the leading ways in which consumers most prefer to get updates from their favorite brands.

Meanwhile, only a small proportion of the Upstream survey respondents say they respond positively to QR codes (9%) and augmented reality (2%).

Personalized Messages Important

Some marketing messages have a higher likelihood of getting through to consumers than others. 26% of the UK and US consumers say they are more likely to respond to messages tailored to their personal interests, while 22% are more likely to respond to promotions that are location-specific, and 21% to promotions that are contextually relevant to what they were doing. Other types of promotions that respondents report being more likely to respond to include those specific to the time they are sent (14%) and those with attention-grabbing phrasing (7%).

Other Findings:

  • Consumers are accessing communications channels through a variety of devices: two-thirds use more than one device to check their email; 64% use more than one to browse the internet; and 44% use more than one to access social media sites. One-third either do not mind or do not know which platform they prefer to receive promotional messages over.
  • Only 11% of UK respondents and 15% of US consumers who have browsed the internet on their mobile phone have ever clicked on a mobile banner ad. Furthermore, just 1% of UK adults and 2% of US adults who browse on their devices click on banner ads frequently.
  • 79% of UK respondents and 72% of US consumers find banner ads on their mobiles or smartphones to be irritating.

About the Data: The Digital Advertising Attitudes Report 2012 was commissioned by Upstream and conducted by YouGov. The total sample size was 2,054 UK adults and 2,015 US adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from January 24-26, 2012, and the survey was carried out online.

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