Ad clutter is generally “under control,” reports Integral Ad Science [download page] in its Q1 2016 US Media Quality Report. The study shows that roughly 1 in 7 (13.9%) of impressions at US websites are served on pages with 4 or more display ads, butÂ only 3.4% of impressions are served on pages with at least 6 ads (“high” or “very high” clutter).
Both clutter and brand risk were higher when ads were placed through programmatic display as opposed to through direct publishers. For example, “moderate” to “very high” ad clutter (at least 4 ads) totaled 15% of impressions for ads placed through programmatic display, as opposed to 9.8% for those through direct publishers. And brand risk – ads served on sites with low brand safety (moderate to very high risk content) – totaled 9.7% of impressions for programmatic versus 5.8% for publisher direct placements.
The ad clutter figures are interesting in light of the growing popularity of ad blockers. The increase in ad blocking use comes at the same time as an apparent decrease in ad clutter: back in H1 2013, Integral Ad Science reported that about one-quarter of web traffic landed on sites with 4 or more display ads, close to double the share in this most recent study. It’s worth noting that theÂ 2013Â study was based on global data, but it was nonethelessÂ heavily skewed towards US traffic. (The most recent Integral Ad Science data shows that high ad clutter is in fact more prevalent in the US than in the UK, Germany, Australia, and France.)
Perhaps the growing popularity of ad blockers owes to greater use of smartphones in recent years: after all, youth believe that ad clutter is a bigger problem on smartphones than on desktops. And while previous research indicates that within the US, ad blocking is more prevalent on desktops than smartphones, a new study from PageFair and Priori indicates that the opposite is true on a global basis.
Different forms of advertising may also play a role: retailers, for example, are making use of modal lightboxes (pop-ups). While these appear to be effective, they can be a major irritant for consumers.
About the Data: The Integral Ad Science report is based on an analysis of “hundreds of billions of impressions” processed on a quarterly basis.