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Digital ads annoy UK consumers

News, 16 September 2016

LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO: Marketers need to take care when serving online ads to British consumers because recent research has shown them to be far less receptive than Americans and other consumers in mature markets.

According to tech firm Adobe, 27% of UK consumers think digital ads have got worse over the past three years compared with 22% of their counterparts in France, 20% in the US and 18% in Germany.

In addition, more than half (54%) of UK consumers describe online advertising as "ineffective", compared to 52% in Germany, 51% in France and just 43% in the US.

Julia Soffa, Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, told Marketing Week that UK consumers are more likely than Americans to be critical about online advertising largely because they are exposed to more of it owing to the high rate of mobile penetration in the country.

"The volume of advertising and opportunities to be targeted by a brand are higher in the UK than the US. People in the UK see more ads and there are more touchpoints so they are more likely to be critical," she said. "Generally Europeans are more sensitive than Americans to being bombarded by advertising."

It appears British consumers are more antagonistic on nearly all measures covered in the Adobe study. For example, half (50%) say they would stop watching an ad entirely if it was not skippable – more than in the other three nations – while 74% agree that they "try to skip ads as soon as possible".

The results do not get much better for display ads either because almost two-thirds (63%) of UK consumers say they are "most unwilling" to view pop-up ads after clicking, compared with 59% in France and 46% in Germany.

Soffa described the UK online ad market as being in its "growing pain stage" and said marketers should concentrate on producing creative and relevant content if they want to engage UK consumers.

"Consumers want dynamic creative. A relevant piece of content that with the right data can deliver something personal to a particular audience," she said.

"As marketers there is an opportunity to really expand the creative canvas with the data, not drill down and spread messages that are not relevant just because we have access to email addresses or inventory."

The survey findings chime with the topic of the 2016 Admap Prize, which asked how should marketing adapt to the era of personalisation?

Oliver Feldwick, Head of Digital Strategy at CHI & Partners, was this year's winner for his essay, "The Uncanny Valley of Personalisation", in which he warned that consumers are put off by automation and Big Data however much marketers are excited by the technological developments.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff