Who’s Ignoring Which Ads?

GooTechnologies-Ads-Most-Ignored-by-Americans-Feb2014A new survey from Goo Technologies, conducted by Harris Interactive, looks at the types of ads that consumers say they are most likely to ignore. Overall, the study finds that online ads are ignored by the largest share of respondents (82%), with traditional media ads such as TV ads (37%), radio ads (36%), and newspaper ads (35%) a fair way behind. Drilling down into the results, some interesting demographic differences emerge.

Looking first at online ads, the survey indicates that banner ads are ignored by the largest share of respondents overall (73%), followed by social media ads (62%) and search engine ads (59%). In each case the propensity to ignore ads rises alongside age – by a significant degree. Here are some interesting breakdowns:

Compared to 18-34-year-olds, the 65+ crowd is:

  • 50% more likely to count online banner ads among those they ignore the most (87% vs. 58%);
  • 58% more likely to ignore social media ads (76% vs. 48%); and
  • 53% more likely to ignore search engine ads (72% vs. 47%).

Interestingly, older respondents are ignoring more banner ads despite seeing less of them: a recent study from comScore determined that during November 2013, 18-34-year-olds saw on average 2,311 display ads, compared to 2,212 for 35-54-year-olds and 1,803 for those aged 55 and up. With those types of numbers, it’s really not surprising that 3 in 4 respondents to the Goo Technologies survey are ignoring banner ads the most – they’re seeing about 70 per day!

How about TV ads? In this case, older Americans watch significantly more TV than their younger counterparts (and presumably therefore see more ads). Consistent with the results above, the oldest group reports being almost twice as likely to be ignoring TV ads as the youngest group (50% vs. 26%). That’s an interesting stat worth repeating: young Americans are about half as likely as older Americans to say that TV ads are among the ones they ignore the most. (They’re slightly more likely to be skipping recorded TV ads, though, according to the comScore study referenced above.)

Finally, while there’s not as much of a gap, the oldest group also says it’s more likely to be ignoring radio (46% vs. 34%) and newspaper ads (41% vs. 34%).

The age breakdown is intriguing given other research which finds Boomers to be more reliant than Millennials on advertising as a purchase influencer. Perhaps when they do pay attention to advertising, older Americans are more influenced by it?

While there does not appear to be much difference in the propensity to ignore ads when sorting by gender, there are some patterns that arise when breaking down the respondents by other variables:

  • Respondents from higher-income households ($100k+) are more likely than those from lower-income households (<$50k) to be ignoring all types of online ads, but the reverse is true for each type of traditional media ad;
  • College graduates are more likely than those without a college education to be ignoring each form of online ads, while there is no statistically significant gap when it comes to TV, radio and newspaper ads;
  • Those with kids at home are less likely to be ignoring each type of ad; and
  • Married respondents are more likely to be ignoring each type of ad save for radio and newspaper ads, where there is no gap.

So how can online ads get more attention? The survey lists some potential improvements, finding that respondents would be most likely to pay more attention to funny (40%) and entertaining (32%) online ads, continuing what appears to be Americans’ love affair with humorous advertising.

Lower down the totem pole, fewer would pay more attention to online ads if they had stunning graphics (19%), were interactive (12%), featured a sexy man or woman (10%), or were game-ified (7%). But the fewest votes went to ads where the celebrity is the spokesperson (6%); see here for more details regarding the influence (or lack thereof) of celebrities in advertising.

As for the demographics of those responses: in general, younger groups are more likely to want online ads to be funny, as are respondents with children and those who are not married.

About the Data: The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of Goo Technologies from January 17-21, 2014 among 2,047 adults aged 18 and older.