Americans are fed up with bad ads: Study

MUMBAI: Forty-four per cent of Americans won‘t put up with more than three spam emails or online ads before they ignore a company completely; 83 per cent report irrelevant ads are getting in the way of activities such as working (20 per cent), sex (19 per cent) and sleeping (13 per cent)

InsightsOne, which offers consumer predictive intelligence solutions enabled by big data has announced the findings of its 2013 Bad Ads Survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on its behalf from 27 February - 1 March, 2013 among over 2,100 American adults aged 18 and older. The survey, which was aimed at determining American attitudes and behaviour around the ads they see every day, found that 87 per cent are now putting their foot down on the number of irrelevant ads they are willing to see before they ignore a company completely.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Americans say that they will do so after seeing just one spam email or online ad, and 43 per cent say they will ignore a company completely after seeing as many as two.

It was also found that annoying ads are pervasive, with 91 per cent of Americans reporting they see them. While email spam and junk mail tend to get the most attention, it was surprising to discover that almost as many Americans are annoyed by website ad spam (52 per cent) as are annoyed by email spam/sidebar ads (55 per cent). Postal junk mail (37 per cent) actually ranked fifth, behind television ads (60 per cent), email spam/sidebar ads, website ads and ads on social media (37 per cent).

The results may create challenges for ecommerce companies that advertise and sell over the web. In fact, 88 per cent of Americans say they have even been "flooded" with online ad spam, and 91 per cent of those say they take action when it occurs. 36 per cent of those who have ever been flooded with online ad spam say they would leave a website because of too many irrelevant ads, and many more would begin to feel that the company doing the advertising doesn‘t respect their time (26 per cent). For email, 60 per cent will unsubscribe from future messages, but a surprising 45 per cent will simply ignore future communications.

In some of the more extreme cases, Americans who are flooded with online ad spam say they would:

  • Stop using the product advertised - 14 per cent

  • Completely boycott the company doing the advertising - 13 per cent

  • Tell their friends - nine per cent

  • Respond angrily - five per cent and;

  • Hit their computer or mobile device in frustration - four per cent

Men were statistically more likely than women to take certain actions, including stop using the product (17 versus 11 per cent), completely boycott the company doing the advertising (16 versus 10 per cent), respond angrily (seven versus three per cent), hit their computer or mobile device in frustration (five versus three per cent) and especially feel the company doesn‘t respect their time (30 versus 22 per cent).

InsightsOne CEO Waqar Hasan said, "The American people are tired of companies that appear to not respect or understand their needs. The results of the study show that consumers have a real limit on what they‘re willing to put up with, and this very real problem will have a negative impact on a company‘s income statement if they don‘t do something about it."

The study looked at where the biggest problems are, and what ads people find more annoying. Overall, more Americans get annoyed by irrelevant pop-up ads and lottery scams (both 70 per cent) than get annoyed by:

  • Male enhancement ads - 66 per cent

  • Emails from deceased African leaders who have left them money - 64 per cent

  • Ads for products and services they do not need - 58 per cent

  • Female enhancement ads - 54 per cent

Women were more likely than men to be annoyed at both male and also female enhancements ads (71 versus 61 per cent and 63 versus 44 per cent, respectively)

A great number of people (83 per cent) also report that irrelevant ads are actually getting in the way of their activities, such as web surfing (51 per cent), and in another bad sign for ecommerce vendors: online shopping (37 per cent), further demonstrating that when ecommerce sites fail to treat customers as unique individuals and anticipate their needs, they may be damaging their reputation and losing out on extra sales.

20 per cent also report that irrelevant ads get in the way of working, and surprising percentages believe that irrelevant ads have now started to even get in the way of having sex (19 per cent) and sleeping (13 per cent).

"While the results of the study may seem amusing, they point to a real concern in American life. People are fed up with seeing ads and other communications that aren‘t relevant to them as individuals," added Hasan.

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