Which Ads Do Internet Users Dislike the Most?

July 20, 2016

HubSpotAdblockPlus-Most-Widely-Disliked-Types-of-Ads-Jul2016American adults are almost twice as likely to dislike (61%) as to like (34%) advertising, per recent research from YouGov. So which types of ads get the blood boiling the most? HubSpot has some answers, based on a survey conducted among more than 1,000 online browsers in the US, UK, Germany and France.

Online pop-ups take the dubious distinction of being the most widely disliked form of advertising, with 73% of respondents reporting disliking these. In fact, about 9 in 10 online browsers separately agreed that certain ads, like pop-ups or ads where they have to click “X” to remove, are really frustrating to deal with.

Right below pop-ups are mobile phone ads, which are disliked by 7 in 10 respondents. That attitude is supported by research from Nielsen, in which 2 in 3 connected device owners said that they find mobile ads annoying.

Pop-ups and mobile phone ads are clearly the most broadly disliked, per the HubSpot research, but a majority (57%) also dislike online video ads before content loads (pre-rolls), like those on YouTube.

Generally speaking, ads that are easier to ignore fell further down the list. Fewer than half, for example, dislike online banner ads (43%) and ads on Facebook (40%), and only 1 in 4 dislike text-only search ads. Traditional media ads are also generally tolerable, per the report, with only about one-third (36%) disliking TV ads, and even fewer disliking billboard ads (21%) and magazine/print ads (18%).

These differences could be related to the creative intrinsic to each channel, or to the extent to which these ads do or don’t interrupt the browser’s activity. It’s worth noting that while more than 9 in 10 respondents agreed that online ads are more intrusive now than they were 2-3 years ago, relatively fewer (63%) agreed that most ads they see online don’t look polished or professional.

It’s interesting to view the results in light of MarketingCharts’ own primary research into ad effectiveness. The newly-released study, Advertising Channels With the Largest Influence on Consumers, demonstrates that US adults are most likely to recall advertisers and claim purchase influence from TV ads. However, when compared to the extent to which they’re exposed to ads across various channels, print newspaper ads appear to be the most effective.

By contrast, video ads are generally seen as having little impact on consumers’ purchases. While mobile banner ads are rising in influence, social ads are the only digital format to seemingly have a strong influence on purchase behavior.

Returning to the HubSpot survey, which was conducted by SSI and in partnership with Adblock Plus, the most annoying mobile ads are those that pop up over the entire screen, with almost three-quarters of the survey sample calling these “highly annoying.” Ads that seem to “follow” respondents from computer to phone are highly annoying to almost two-thirds, while video ads are more annoying when in games (49%) than on YouTube (40%).


Annoying ads can have an impact on brand perception, too. More than 8 in 10 agreed that obnoxious or intrusive ads give them a poor opinion of the websites that allow them (85%) and of the brands that are being advertised (84%).

On a more positive note, a majority (57%) of respondents find mobile search ads to be valuable and useful, with close to half feeling the same way about social media ads (47%) and video (45%). There’s not quite as much agreement (37%) about the value of display ads.

In fact, among those who have clicked on an ad, 34% said they did it mistakenly and 15% feel that they were tricked into clicking. Only 7% did so because the ad was compelling or provocative, though 40% said the ad happened to interest them.

All in all, while the report goes into more detail about ad blocking use and motivation, 31% of respondents said they’re fine with the current situation of seeing ads to support websites. But it would certainly help if those ads weren’t annoying: 68% are fine with seeing ads, but only if they are not annoying.

About the Data: HubSpot partnered with Adblock Plus to create the study questions and secure survey responses through SSI, an independent survey panel provider. HubSpot notes that while AdBlock Plus was involved in the research study, the views in the HubSpot report are entirely HubSpot’s.


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