When digital advertising first emerged, technology seemingly offered a utopian future for marketers — the ability to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Marketers talked about an eventual end to one-size-fits-all advertising seen as irrelevant, interruptive, and annoying.
Yet, today’s experience certainly hasn’t gotten any less annoying. Nielsen Norman Group released a study last week on the most hated online advertising techniques, in comparison with a study they first conducted in 2004:
“Some things don’t change — users’ expectations, in particular. The popups of the early 2000s have reincarnated as modal windows, and are hated just as viscerally today as they were over a decade ago. Automatically playing audio is received just as negatively today. The following ad characteristics remained just as annoying for participants as they were in the early 2000s:
– Pops up
– Slow loading time
– Covers what you are trying to see
– Moves content around
– Occupies most of the page
– Automatically plays sound”
Of course, one thing has changed. New technology in the form of Ad Blockers is allowing people to block ads altogether. The sudden rise of Ad Blockers (up 30% over last year to around 20% of users) has created a wake-up call in the industry. Marketers are referring to this as the “AdBlockAlypse”.
Google announced last week that the Chrome browser would include a built-in ad blocker starting in early 2018. The ad blocker would be turned on by default and screen out what Google defines as some of the most annoying advertising tactics. This is a continuation of the work of The Coalition for Better Ads formed last year by Google, Facebook, Unilever, and P&G and others to clean up the digital advertising industry.
This presents a massive challenge and opportunity for brands. Just as technology makes it easier for marketers to reach their audiences, technology makes it easier for audiences to tune marketers out.
Here’s a related cartoon I drew a couple years ago.