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Seven ways to annoy consumers

News, 19 March 2015

MARRAKECH: If the perfect ad is one that reaches the right person at the right time then brand marketers have some way to go as new research shows the many ways in which they continue to irritate consumers.

Social media agency, We Are Social, conducted a detailed analysis of 670,000 English language Twitter comments about ads over the course of six months in the context of Project Reconnect, the WFA's flagship initiative to better align brand and marketing strategy with people's changing expectations in the digital age.

Many negative tweets expressed a generic dislike of ads or commercials, but there were also more specific complaints that marketers can look to address.

Interruption of viewing was always annoying but especially so during high intensity content such as action and drama shows or live sporting events, so marketers need to add value to the context in which an ad appears.

Too many brands are also choosing the wrong moment and the wrong audience for their messages. It might be the right time but the wrong place or the right time but the wrong audience. Constant retargeting was another bugbear.

Advertising overkill – too many ad breaks and often ad breaks that are too long – can create irritation with all commercials, regardless how often any individual message appears.

Exaggeration riles people, the research said. Brands will gain credibility if they are honest and don't airbrush the challenges they know they face and consumers know they face.

Online targeting is meant to be clever but is often anything but, as the study highlighted instances of ads inappropriate to the content alongside which they featured and consumers being targeted by brands about which they had already expressed negative sentiments.

And many ads are just plain bad, with brands needing to do more testing work to establish if they are engaging and add value before they show them to consumers.

While positive comments outweighed the negative by a factor of 3:2, Stephan Loerke, WFA managing director, said it was the latter the industry should be focused on.

"We are not blind to the fact that ads can be annoying, intrusive and even be seen to contribute to social problems," he said, adding that marketers needed to "better align their strategies and executions with what people want and expect of brands."

Data sourced from WFA; additional content by Warc staff