How to Make People Not Hate Your Ads

A report was recently published by eMarketer titled “Consumer Attitudes Toward Digital Advertising 2021: Reaching the Concerned and Ad-Avoidant User.” The general takeaway is that most consumers are proactively avoiding ads in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. With the increase of opt-in prompts and a growing concern around data privacy, tech will definitely have some heavy lifting to do. But what is the role of creative in all of this? What are the lessons we should be learning, and how can we adjust our thinking to strengthen the relationships between people and brands? 

After spending some time with eMarketer’s report, here are a couple of things us creatives should be taking to heart. 

Disruption isn’t always good. It was reported that 81% of US ad blocking is done to avoid interruptive/annoying ad experience. That’s a huge number! As creatives, we’re constantly told to be disruptive. But when does it bleed into becoming intrusive? Failing to create memorable, positive experiences and instead leaving people with a negative impression of your brand. A great example is in the mobile environment. Mediahub VP Tom Morningstar said, “When you go to a website and have ads that take up the whole screen, those ads drive great view rates and click-throughs, but they’re having a negative impact on user experience.” Think about the brand moments you’re creating, and whether or not they are adding value or just irritation for your consumers.

Humans want control. Yep, no surprise there. How can we create experiences that empower the consumer? By giving people control over whether or not to engage with your ad and rewarding them for their choice (think exclusive content, access, freebies, and more), your brand will be viewed as less annoying and invasive.

Is it cool or is it creepy? The conversation and fear around data collection have become more mainstream, especially when it comes to social media platforms. And as a result, consumers say they trust social ads less than other mediums. As creatives, we need to be looking closely at our ads in order to avoid going too far. Are we personalizing the creative just to prove that we can (enter the ‘ick’ factor), or are we using the data to solve real problems and add value? Also, we should consider how we can complement our social efforts with other, more trusted tactics to enhance our brand’s appeal. 

Avoid too much repetition. In my house, we stream a lot of sports channels, and I can repeat the ad spots word for word. Sure, they’re seared into my brain, but I also become instantly irritated. And a number of studies have backed me up. When we’re thinking about Connected TV placements, it’s up to creatives to think beyond the one really great spot and instead consider how we use content length and storytelling to keep our ads feeling fresh so our audiences stay interested.

Create for the space. It’s important that we acknowledge the experiences we are interrupting, and create ads accordingly. This isn’t new thinking, but as our ad formats and placements rapidly change, it’s worth repeating and taking a step back to consider. If your video ad appears in the middle of their favorite show, keep it as short as possible. But if your content shows up while they casually scroll through social media, then perhaps that’s a more suitable space for long-form storytelling. What we need to remember is there’s no one-size-fits-all. 

Advertising can be a great way to create positive, lasting relationships between people and brands. Or it can simply be annoying. As creatives, we need to listen to our audiences so we can tell the difference.