Internet Users View Ads As Distraction


What does it take to get Internet users to click on ads? Advertisers have been trying to unlock that mystery for years. With the average click-through rate at .09%, new research commissioned by AdKeeper and WPP's 24/7 Real Media, and conducted by Nielsen, might have the answer.

The study conducted in March among 600 people ages 18 to 54 looked at consumer behavior in an attempt to understand why some Internet users don't click on ads. The range includes banner, expandable, video and rich media, excluding search marketing and Facebook. Those who participated in the study "hardly ever or never" click on advertisements they see across the Web.

It turns out that "distraction" remains the No. 1 reason people don't like to click on ads. The multiple choice study reveals that 61% say the ad takes them away from their purpose on the Web site. Fifty-eight percent don't see the ads as relevant, followed by 57% who are afraid clicking on the ad will trigger more spam from advertisers. Some 55% believe their computer will download a virus, 54% don't trust the ads, 46% are afraid pop-up screens will take over their computer screen, and 43% don't see ads as engaging.



Some answers were based on fear, but the majority of consumers just didn't want the ad to take them off the page, according to MaryAnn Bekkedahl, AdKeeper's chief revenue officer. "Most people think the consumer won't click on ads because they don't like them," she says.

Advertisers spend only 15% of their budgets online, while consumers spend 28% of the time they consume media on the Internet, according to AdKeeper. Closing that gap should become a priority for advertisers.

When Internet users participating in the study asked what would get them to click on ads, 17% admit if it didn't interrupt their browsing experience; 9%, seeing an ad from a brand they trust; 9%, seeing targeted and interesting ads; and 7%, ads with coupons or targeted discount codes.

AdKeeper suggests designing ads that allow the Internet user to learn about products or services without leaving the Web site page. The company also suggests building in relevant messages. Give consumers reason to trust the message and give them time to engage with the message on their terms.


9 comments about "Internet Users View Ads As Distraction".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, April 19, 2011 at 9:28 a.m.

    There is one reason, and one reason only why anyone visits a particular website: for the content. By the same token, no one goes anywhere for the ads, period.

    And yet we've made the ads - the one component in the mix that no one wants - the media currency of choice. What's wrong with this picture?

    I invite anybody who'd like to discuss a way around this foolishness to give me a call at 219-878-1006.

  2. Anthony Giallourakis from, LLC, April 19, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.

    Unlike most forms of advertising on the Internet, the use of interactive gaming or advergames to promote branding, a corporate message, or even some form of content is gaining momentum rapidly, and for a very good reason. People are willing to exchange their time and attention for the opportunity to be challenged and entertained.

    Players of advergames "elect" to play. The value proposition of an advergame (executed correctly) is higher in favor of the player. Playing an advertisement is engaging, it is fun, and it changes with each player's interaction.

    Playing an advergame supports the sponsor's effort to create more than just an impression, it allows for the interjection of an emotional hook. A well designed advergame creates a multi-dimensional look and feel for a sponsor's audience to jump into.

    As the quality and quantity of advergames improve, and as the advertising budgets supporting advergame development increases, this exciting form of promotion will continue to grow in popularity with both users and sponsors globally.

    The progression from the red-headed-step-child of the casual games marketplace to a leading form of advertising and marketing on the Internet has elated both consumers and the ever growing subset of gamers who not only respond to advergaming with great enthusiasm, but embrace the trade off of their time and attention in exchange for the fun and entertainment they receive, willingly.

    Have you played a great advertisement lately? We have! It is one thing to go to the water's edge and watch, it is entirely another to actually jump in and swim.

  3. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, April 19, 2011 at 6:27 p.m.

    This article only skips along the surface of the real problem with web advertising.

    Web providers continue to promise highly targeted opportunities where we can tap into potential consumers exactly when they're most likely to engage.

    Except they don't. Click-through-rates fall far below direct mail, television direct response, magazine, or any other traditional media.

    And this is shown in the silly low fees that are able to be charged online.

    IF media is highly targeted, THEN it should be able to charge a premium. But, ctrs are so extraordinarily low that the more targeted you get online, the lower the prices.

    I've written a bit more here with specific rates.

    But fundamentally, this is an odd weakness with the web - with lots of people claiming they can solve it. But, no one really doing so.

    Companies keep using the web purely because it's cheap. Not necessarily wrong, but powerful would be nice.

  4. Matthew Smyers from RedShift, April 20, 2011 at 8:59 a.m.

    The problem is using the CTR as the metric for success. Comparing CTR to direct mail, TV direct response, magazine (really?) or any other traditional media is not an apples to apples comparison by any stretch. Let's all say it together, the purpose of online display advertising is NOT direct response. Well executed display campaigns are meant to feed the top of the marketing funnel (awareness), not the bottom, where search is most effective. This study from ComScore shows the increase in branded search results in conjunction with a well planned display campaign: Online display will continue to get a bad rap as long as we continue to point to CTR as the metric for success.

  5. J S from Ideal Living Media, April 20, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.

    I have a rather obvious, simple, and very effective solution to the entire problem: Allow content providers to encourage users to click on ads as a means of expressing thanks for the content.

    Currently, web users believe they show their savvy by essentially ignoring ads. That belief is our enemy.

    To change that culture, encouraging ad clicks -- which can/should open in another tab -- as a means to thank the content providers will do 2 things:

    1. Provide a passive incentive to get users to genuinely look at the ads to see what they would most prefer to click on.

    2. Get users to look at landing pages. Inb4: there is a likelihood that users will claim they don't really look at -- or are influenced by -- the landing pages... just as they claim for TV commercials, print ads, etc.

    It is a win-win for all involved. However, as long as Google, et al., forbid the practice of encouraging ad clicks, web advertising will weaken (and die?) as a significant revenue stream, and dis-incline content providers to provide quality content.

    Ironically, Google, et al., could boost their own revenues by including that encouragement itself within its own ads, e.g., "Like this content? Support this site by clicking your favorite ads below:"

    Free, easy to implement -- and effective. Don't believe it would work? Allow advertisers to opt in, and have their ads associated with "liking" great content. Test it and see.

    As a content provider, I'd much, much, much prefer to have a "Like" function that generated actual ad revenue, than give a boost to some social media company.

  6. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, April 20, 2011 at 6:32 p.m.

    @Matthew - Interesting theory.

    What you're suggesting is that internet ads should be used primarily for branding - which means we don't care if people click.

    I don't necessarily argue with that - my sense is that this is on way to use internet ads.

    But its not what the internet advertising advocates have spent a couple of decades preaching. They make their money telling us about how measurable their ads are, how targeted, how outstandingly effective! But results show they are pretty inadequate for effectiveness.

    But, it's no about internet or not. It should be about the role. In my experience, IF consumers know your company & its products and know why they should care, then the internet can play an important role in brand and in leading them to action. BUT, if not, then you MUST advertise off-line (at least if you want to reach or establish a market of any significant size).

  7. Rick Monihan from None, April 22, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.

    Matthew is onto something, but there's more to be said.
    First of all, all ads in all media are distractions. While people may enjoy SOME TV ads, this can't be said to be the case for ALL TV ads, and in general people would prefer to watch uninterrupted programming.
    Secondly, CTR is by no means the best way to gauge or measure success. In fact, I'd argue that in some cases it is the WORST measure. Example - one of my best performing clients at one time was a fellow who deliberately sent me awful creative. Truly bad stuff. I had to turn alot away. But he was persistent and not all of it was so bad that I couldn't run it. His click rates were astounding. So were his conversion rates. But his ads were annoying as anything. Was he successful? Yes, but I think he may have done some damage to his brand in the process.....not that he seemed to care as long as people kept buying.
    Finally, I don't view internet advertising as something that should occur in a vacuum. I had a management team recently that felt they could use the internet to drive viewers to TV. I explained to them the reverse was true, and that the internet would "tie in" their viewer loyalty by providing an interactive component that couldn't be given via broadcast. By reversing the approach, which they refused to do, they may have been able to salvage some of their audience, which was in the process of rapidly degrading. The same goes for the advertising which is online - it has to have other media that it can relate and tie back to. It's very hard to simply utilize online as a standalone effort. And it can be used (as the article suggests) to pass along information. It is very possible to use it a brand awareness and loyalty tool.

    All that said, there is one factor which I've always felt would help improve performance: Altering content and placement of the ads.

    Since we all tend to know that banners are at the top of the page and a 300X250 is on the left or right, our minds are trained to simply ignore these placements. Over time, we don't even bother to see the truly good creative being used. I've always felt that a page which dynamically shifts placements between several locations will perform better than one which has placements statically fixed over long periods of time. My own very brief tests of this proved there is something behind this....and I wish I could have run them longer. But even if the placements are changing, if the content of the ads is poor, there is little one can do to improve performance. In the end, the one thing no publisher is able to control is the quality of the ads that are being run.

  8. Chris Nielsen from Domain Incubation, April 25, 2011 at 12:06 p.m.

    Well, ads ARE distractions, aren't they? When was the last time you went to an ads-only site to look for something you wanted?

    One of my clients has a PPC ad campaign with a CTR of 9%! (no typo)... But looking at CTR is like looking at "hits" to a site. Interesting, but mostly meaningless with little that is actionable. Talk to me about "conversions" and we can have a discussion.

    Most CTRs are so low because the ads are hammering away at people, and/or there are problems with the offer that could range from placement, the creative, the offer, or something else. The mystery to me is why marketers have so many problems with the basics.

    All the clues are mentioned in this article. All the things you need to address are there to get better results. If you want to glimpse the future, look at the ads on Facebook and check on the "x" by each one that you can click if you dare. Make sure your heart is strong enough to take the shock of discovery. Users can tell you your ad SUCKS! And you should thank them for telling you.

    Look, go spend some time at and when you find the keys to unlock your marketing efforts real potential, contact me and I will tell you where to send my consulting bonus check... :-)

  9. Jorge Fernando from Xertive Media, July 6, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.

    This is actually a very interesting symptom of online advertising and it has to do with audience targeting.

    I believe the direction Google is leading with the opt out option will actually allow users who don't like clicking ads to get rid of them, as well as vice versa (networks will be able to filter out users)

    We are actually using an interesting remarketing technique <a href="">where i work</a> to handle this issue and it works pretty well with some of our clients.

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