‘Traditional still trumps “annoying” digital advertising’

Marketers should not overlook traditional marketing in the rush to become digital-led businesses as the majority of consumers currently find brands’ online efforts ‘annoying’, ‘invasive’’ and ‘distractive’, a report suggests.

Guinness Surfer Horses
TV ads like Guinness’ famous 1999 ‘Surfer’ TV spot was one of the most memorable campaigns ever, according to Adobe’s report

Adobe’s “Click Here: State of Online Advertising” study found consumers still prefer “old school” – print, TV, outdoor – advertising to newer online channels, suggesting brands have “a lot of work to do” to capture consumer attention in the digital world.

Print magazines were voted the most popular advertising medium (39 per cent of the poll) in the UK, ahead of TV ads (23 per cent) and websites (12 per cent). 

The popularity of print magazines seems to be at odds with where marketers are placing their spend. Ad expenditure on print magazine brands fell 9.4 per cent year on year in 2012 to £1.1bn, according to the latest quarterly AA/Warc report. “Internet spend” – which excludes digital ad spend on news and magazine brands – grew 13.2 per cent year on year at £5.2bn.

Some seven in 10 consumers (70 per cent) said they thought TV ads are “more important” than online ads, particularly those from John Lewis and Guinness, which are cited by consumers as being the most memorable campaigns. 

Almost two thirds of consumers (62 per cent) described online ads as “annoying”, while almost half said they were “invasive” (45 per cent) and “distracting” (44 per cent). Just a small group said online ads were “eye catching” (13 per cent), “clever” (12 per cent) or “persuasive” (8 per cent).

Mark Phibbs, Adobe EMEA vice present of marketing, says the report should act as an “important wake up call to brands”.

He adds: “In reality, both brands and consumers are still getting used to the fact that, while physical advertising has traditionally been about broadcasting messages, online now affords the opportunity to engage with customers directly. The brands that harness this possibility will ultimately win in the digital world.”

Of the digital marketing that is resonating with consumers, the report found consumers are comfortable with engaging with brands on social media. About half (44 per cent) have “liked”  something brands have posted on Facebook – although the same number of consumers also said they would like to see a “dislike” button on the site. The top two reasons people “like” brands on social channels is to share their tastes and interests with the world (52 per cent) and recommend products to friends (40 per cent).

Phibbs says: “It’s not wholly surprising that online and digital isn’t resonating to the same degree – not only is it is still relatively in its infancy as an advertising channel, but the digital landscape and the corresponding opportunities for brands are constantly changing.  It’s seems to be a matter of now figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  Nevertheless, it’s clear from our research that brands have a lot of work to do to capture consumer attention in the digital world.”

The research, conducted by Edelman Berland on behalf of Adobe, polled 752 marketing decision makers and 3,756 consumers across the UK, Germany and France.

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