Advertisers, Consumers Disagree on Ad Effectiveness

July 24, 2009

Though advertisers and consumers both agree that amusing ads are effective and scary and guilt-inducing ads are not, they don’t see eye-to-eye on the efficacy of other types of advertising appeals, including those that make people stop and think, provide new information, and show before/after scenarios, according to (pdf) a LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll.?


The study also found that ads that “talk money,” including those that show a value proposition and offer luxuries for less during the recession are much more appealing to consumers than those that take an empathetic or cheerleading approach in these times of economic hardship.


Effectiveness of Specific Ad Types

When it comes to types of ads, the study found that advertisers and consumers agree on the effectiveness of some, but disagree on others:

  • While more than half of advertisers believe ads that make people stop and think (53%) and ads that give people new information (51%) are very effective, just three in ten consumers (30% and 29% respectively) feel the same.
  • 26% of advertisers think ads that are integrated into the feel of the program, that is has the same tone as the program it is based in, are very effective compared with just 7% of consumers.
  • When it comes to ads that show before/after, 24% of advertisers say they are very effective while 13% of consumers say they are very effective.
  • One in five advertisers (21%) say ads that reinforce a message already known are very effective, compared with only 10% of consumers.
  • Consumers and advertisers both like ads that amuse. More than one-third (34%) of consumers and 41% of advertisers say entertaining ads are very effective, and one-third of both consumers (33%) and advertisers (32%) say funny ads are very effective. However, there is a fine line in amusement as just one in ten consumers (11%) and 14% of advertisers say ads that don’t take themselves seriously are very effective. Almost one in five consumers (18%) say these ads are not at all effective.
  • 41% of consumers (41%) 32% of advertisers? believe that scary ads are not at all effective.
  • 27% of consumers and 18% of advertisers say ads about a serious topic that make people feel guilty are not at all effective.

Recession Consumers Like Value Propositions

The study also examined the perceived effectiveness of ads currently being used to address the economic crisis, and revealed that value proposition strategies and “luxuries for less” approaches resonate most with consumers.

Notable findings:

  • Three in five advertisers (61%) say they are using a value proposition strategy, promoting sales, coupons and discounts. Almost three in five consumers (57%) say that this strategy is working very well or well to help them sell their products or services.
  • Two in five advertisers (39%) are using empathy approaches, attempting to convey that companies understand what consumers are going through. But only one-quarter of consumers (24%) say empathy works very or somewhat well, and one-third (33%) say it does not work at all.
  • One-fourth of advertisers (25%) say they are using cheerleading (“we’ve made it through tough times before, we’ll do it again, and we can help you do it.”) Almost two in five (38%) of consumers, however, say that these types of ads do not work at all.
  • Though less than one in five advertisers (18%) say they are using the “luxuries for less” proposition, one-third of consumers (34%) say these types of ads work very well or well in selling products or services

The study also found that there is a generational divide as the younger age groups (18- 34) are more likely to say each of these four strategies works very well or well. In fact, more than half of 18-34 year olds (51%) say they think “luxuries for less” works very well or well compared to just 19% of those 55 and older.


Previously published results from the same poll also revealed that consumers are very frustrated by many of today’s popular types of internet ads.

About the survey: The poll was conducted online within the US from June 24-26, 2009, among 2,025 adults (ages 18+) and between June 22 and 30, 2009 among 1,105 advertisers. For the adults, figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population.

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