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Consumers don’t necessarily dislike advertising – in fact, in some instances they like it. But what really irks them most about brand marketing is false or misleading advertising, according to a new CMO Council study [download page] produced in partnership with Dow Jones. In fact, this is the single biggest bother with brand marketing, per the consumers surveyed, far ahead of irritating TV commercials and brands not keeping their promises. (Of course, customer satisfaction relies on following through on marketing claims.)

The question of honesty in advertising is a tricky one. Recent research indicates an uptick in the share of consumers who believe that advertising is generally honest. But at the same time, there continues to be a very low amount of trust in advertising practitioners’ honesty, according to annual research from Gallup. This suggests that advertising suffers from a perception problem if nothing else.

Not surprisingly, family and friends are the most trusted sources of information for the consumers surveyed, with websites, search engines and TV closely grouped yet trailing fairly distantly. Family and friends – along with websites – have been the most trusted for some time now, while Edelman research a couple of years ago marked a shift from traditional media to search in terms of trust in information sources.

Attitudes to Brand Advertising Online

The report indicates that TV is where the largest proportion of respondents are exposed to the most advertising messages, but that social media is close behind (and rising in influence). Consumers feel exposed to more advertising on websites and using search engines than in print or radio.

There seem to be some dueling attitudes towards brand advertising online: whereas a plurality say that it detracts from their enjoyment of content consumption, almost half say they always or mostly pay attention to it.

Meanwhile, most are opposed to brands placing advertising near or alongside content or through media outlets found to be objectionable, a reaction supported by other research on the topic.

Finally, pop-ups rear their head again. Fresh off new research showing that pop-ups are the most intrusive form of advertising, the CMO Council study once again finds that intrusive pop-up ads are the most bothersome form of brand advertising, ahead of auto-playing video ads.

Why is that a problem? Because obnoxious or intrusive ads contribute more to a negative advertising experience for respondents than hateful or racist ads or even ones that infect computers with a virus! And a negative advertising experience would lead two-thirds of respondents to think differently about a brand or choose to not to do business with the brand. So while anecdotal data indicates that pop-ups do convert, at what cost?

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 2,200 consumers in the US, Canada and the UK.

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