Online ads fall short in US

07 December 2010

NEW YORK: Online banner and search ads typically prove the least effective channels for commanding the attention of US consumers, a study has revealed.

Industry title Adweek and research firm Harris Interactive surveyed 2,098 adults to discover the formats that generally failed to make an impression finding that 43% ignore online banners more often than any other kind of ad.

More specifically, ignore rates for online display peaked at 47% among 18-34 year olds, and hit 46% where participants had graduated from college.

Paid search, as offered by Google and Bing, registered 20%, a perception at its lowest, of 17%, for those finishing their education at the high-school level.

As such, the Adweek/Harris Interactive analysis said while digital is considered to yield advantages in terms of targeting and reach, 63% of respondents most commonly block out brand messages via this medium.

Elsewhere, 14% of the audience disregarded television spots with the greatest frequency, an attitude held by 20% of people aged 55 years old or more, compared with just 9% of 18-34 year olds.

Men generated a slightly above-average score in this area, but contributors that had attended university were below the norm.

Approval for radio advertising was smallest in the 18-34 year old demographic, 11% of which tried to avoid such commercials more regularly than the equivalent through any other form of mainstream media.

This could be measured against 5% of 45-54 year olds, and the median of 7% recorded by radio overall.

Newspaper ads performed better still on 6%, with this rating largely constant across the consumer segments assessed, posting a 1% rise among 18-34 years olds and 45-54 year olds.

However, the unobtrusive nature of print advertising made it the best-regarded of the featured options.

Meanwhile, the report said 91% of panellists ignored at least one type of advertising, including 94% of college graduates and 93% of people over 55 years old, the two most evasive groups.

Figures fell to a low of 88% concerning 45-54 year olds, and 89% relating to those with a high-school education at maximum.

The poll also suggested any gender gap is modest, with 90% of males attempting to avoid some kinds of commercial communications, as did 92% of females.

Women tended to be less amenable to online display, with ignore rates at 45% versus 42% for men, while 15% of men and 13% of women disliked TV spots.

"Although almost all Americans say they ignore some ads … this does not mean it's a lost cause for advertisers," the study concluded.

"Rather, companies looking to effectively reach consumers may just need to educate themselves and tailor their messages – as well as their chosen medium – to best appeal to the desired group."

Data sourced from Harris Interactive; additional content by Warc staff