LONDON: Over 80% of 18-25 year olds in the UK spend at least 15 minutes a day browsing images and videos online, but a majority say they are bothered by or ignore accompanying advertising they regard as ill-targeted, research has revealed.

WeSEE, an online advertising and content classification company, surveyed 1,000 adults, in March 2013 and found that, while most people understood online advertising was targeted, 57% of respondents felt that targeting was too simplistic, a figure that rose to 70% among 18-25 year olds.

Adrian Moxley, WeSee chief marketing officer, pointed out that the digitally savvy 18-25 age group, an important demographic for online marketers, had grown up with the internet and expected a higher level of personalisation than older users.

"Brand marketers need to realise this and respond accordingly," he said, "by taking the steps necessary to ensure that advertising is targeted and relevant, or lose out on engaging with this demographic."

Looking at visual content, especially streaming video content, is one of the most popular activities on the Web, but WeSEE noted that much of this is not coming from brands and media companies but is user-generated. Some 44% of consumers uploaded visual content to the Web every month.

"One huge reason that consumers are saying that ads are untargeted or simplistic is because advertisers are only interpreting some of the data available to them when working out what a user might be interested in," explained Moxley.

"Images and video content are completely ignored by advertisers unless they are properly tagged with keywords," he elaborated.

"Add to this the fact that such a large portion of the web's visual content is now user-generated and unlikely to have an accompanying text-based description attached to it and you potentially have an advertiser's nightmare – the web is full of content that cannot be interpreted."

A newly announced Instagram photo-tagging feature may help change at least a small part of that, with brands able to, for example, ask users to tag the brand when they take photos at one of their sponsored festivals.

Moxley argued that consumers were willing to share data on their likes and dislikes online but this information needed to be properly understood to avoid irritating them.

"Not only do brands which don't target ads effectively for the ever-evolving ways in which consumers are using the internet stand to lose out on potential revenue," he said, "but poorly targeted ads are actively annoying consumers, so the damage to the brand could be longer standing."

Data sourced from WeSee, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff