Do People Hate Advertisements (And What Can We Do About It)?



This is the CTR (clicks to impressions ratio) you can count on when you’re starting a new campaign on Google Display Network in AdWords.

This means that only one person out of 330 that see your ad will actually click on it. Let me say that more graphically: 99.7% of all the people who see your ad won’t click on it!

Does this mean that, in general, people hate internet advertisements? Let’s try to find the answer to this question here.

A simple answer

If people hated online ads that much – enough to make them ineffective – then simply nobody would use them. The fact that many various subjects spend tons of money on internet ads, means that they work pretty well, and people don’t hate them so much after all. In fact, they’ve already got used to seeing them.

But that’s a big generalization (for whole advertising as a branch). What’s obvious is that there are some types of ads that are being truly hated by the general public. Which types are they and do we really have to bother with this whole problem? I need some help with answering this question so let me introduce something I call:

Advertisement Hate Rate (AHR)

If CTR is the clicks to impressions ratio then AHR can be presented as:

100% – CTR = AHR

It’s obvious that you can’t measure the efficiency of your ads solely on CTR or AHR, because clicks are not all that matter – sales are. Nevertheless, you can use AHR to tell whether or not someone likes your ad.

As I said before, the value of AHR is usually around 99,7% … sounds a bit depressing, doesn’t it?

Is 99,7% much?

If we want to know such a thing then it’s probably best to look at the real world first. How high AHR television has? Radio? Billboards? Newspapers?

That’s where the problem starts to be a bit difficult because there’s no easy way of measuring AHR in the real world (or old media as some like to call it). It’s easy on the internet… the only thing you have to do is to note the number of impressions of your ad and the number of clicks. There’s no such thing as “a click” in old media, so there’s no CTR (or AHR).

So the question remains unanswered. We don’t know whether 99,7% is much or not because there’s no way of measuring it in the real world. What a pity…

Is there really nothing we can do? Is there no possibility for us to know whether our ad will be hated on or not? How to create an ad which meets its goals and drives eyes of your target audience without causing a gag reflex? Fortunately, this is a place where we can get some guidance from…

The way the real world works

Imagine that: You’re walking down the street and then, all of the sudden, a guy appears from out of nowhere, stands on your way and starts to talk about his “new free piece of crap”, without which your life will be miserable from now on… That’s a popup.

Imagine that: You tell the guy to piss off but after several meters he appears again and says exactly the same thing… That’s a multiple popup.

Imagine that: You’re walking down the same street and somewhere far away there is a billboard standing. I didn’t write “you see a billboard standing far away” on purpose, because you will probably miss it. Intentionally or not, you won’t pay any attention to it… Just like you would’ve with a banner on the internet.

Here’s the best part. Imagine you’ve got back home. You hear the doorbell, you open, there’s a guy standing there trying to sell you his new “piece of crap at a discount price”, you say that you’re not interested and you try to close the door but the guy puts his foot in and tries to sell you the same thing but at even lower price than a minute ago… That’s a popexit (a window which appears when you try to leave a website).

The experience from the real world can help us to answer whether or not our new ad will be annoying to people. The worst fact about those extremely irritating popexits is that they work… many people say that they owe them significant profit boosts. The whole situation is not easy because we all want bigger profits but at the same time it would be nice not to irritate over 99% of people.

(A short story: Whatever we’re doing, we have to remember not to make a fool out of ourselves. Some time ago I saw a multiple popexit ad. I had to click “no” three times before I was able to leave the site, and on each of the pages there was the same offer at a decreasing price. Give me a break.)

The magic pill

Firstly, there’s one question to answer: Is profit everything that interests me, and do I not mind complaints or the fact that 99% of people fly into a rage when they see my ad?

If your answer is “yes” then you probably should focus on testing every possible advertisement form and at the end stay with the one that brings best profits, regardless of any complaints. That is of course if your skin is thick enough…

If your answer is “no” and you think that profits are not all that matters, you don’t like receiving complaints and having to answer them and you value calm and peaceful life, then before starting a new campaign try to imagine whether the type of advertisement you’re about to use would annoy you or not if you were among its target group. And if it’s a totally innovative type of a campaign then try to compare it to the real world and think about the same thing.

Remember, people don’t like to be sold to, they like when you help them buy

I’m waiting for comments and suggestions (as always). Do you think that people truly hate ads on the internet? Or maybe they love them? Or maybe it doesn’t matter as long as they bring positive results?

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