Stop Making Ads That People Hate

The always-on, ever connected consumer means one thing to advertisers: more places to place advertisements! It doesn’t surprise me when I hear about the declining perception of advertising. As more ad formats and vehicles are invented, I see advertisers struggling to find the right balance of “noticeable amongst competition” and “not creepy” with their ad formats.

We as advertisers must put ourselves in consumer’s shoes. Many (most!) advertisers are consumers as well, so this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task. In my own personal consumer journey, I have seen and felt similar ways to these other consumers:


In a recent study of advertising mobile delivery formats, a group found that 90% of all decisions of whether to pay attention to ads are driven by feelings- if someone likes the experience, or not. This makes sense. The BBDO Comms Planning Team has done a lot of research on emotionally driven campaigns. Ads that elicit emotions positively affect long-term brand preferences and emotional brand associations.

But what happens when people hate your advertising? That negative emotion is linked to your brand, and can negatively impact how people feel about your brand and even their behavior.

And, of course, it leads to people consciously reacting to ads with things like ad blockers.

Here are some ad delivery formats that people hate

  • Annoying digital display that interrupts their experience by taking over content or autoplays on a page
  • Creepy targeting that singles them out based on online shopping history, search history, browser history or their social media profile
  • Repetitive ads with a high frequency
  • Tricky ads that con people into clicking
  • Ugly ads that look unpolished or unprofessional

This, hopefully, should be easy: don’t be annoying, creepy or repetitive. Advertisers must be consciously respectful of a consumer’s space, desired path, time and attention.

Some ad delivery formats that people like

  • TV spots (especially in comparison to digital video!)
  • Ads that give back control, like Skippable video
  • Relevant ads that include what consumers like: their passions, interests and hobbies
  • Contextual ads that reflect the surrounding context

The best solution, no matter what, is to make ads that are good. You, as an advertiser and as a consumer, can see the difference between ads that get your attention because they are interesting, and ads that get your attention because they are obnoxious or annoying. The difference is that consumers will respond positively to good ads.