Do Consumers Really Like When Advertisers Hijack Their Screens?

You know that deal about how you will stay in shape if you take 10,000 steps a day? It sounds both intuitively true (you’re keeping busy) and intuitively vague. (What kind of walking? Lawn-mowing versus strolling around the Tri-County Mall?) Altogether, I conclude the 10,000 steps theory is just a way of saying, “stay active.”

Well, in that vein, Adweek’s Mike Shields reports that based on new research from Ipsos ASI, working with Undertone, there is evidence that the kind of online advertising that take over—those video ads that suddenly gobble up the entire screen—are the ones that consumers prefer. They asked 3,000 panelists about it and discovered those ads have the best recall. And they were the ads users liked most. Those ads had a likability score 30% to 49% higher.

Eric Franchi, co-founder of Undertone, told Shields the results didn’t surprise him, and to some degree he has a logical argument: An advertiser going in for the big kill with a big ad is likely to put more effort into the project than a more modest attempt.



But beyond noticing that Pepsi has invaded my screen with an obviously well-produced ad, my takeaway is that Pepsi has intruded.

Perhaps I just don’t have the right attitude, but going back to the 10,000 steps, I live each day recognizing I am going to be bombarded with messages and Justin Bieber stories. I have to think out my path, since whatever I do, I'm going to get hit, and now, even online ads are getting longer. 

If you are going to be around media, and that includes most human beings in this country, the idea of watching a really compelling ad is … not very compelling because so many will come at me. So if you interrupt me with advertising, you’re starting off in a bad way. I actually judge the message more harshly because the advertiser has felt it was so damn important. I don’t doubt the recall. But I do doubt that the kind of recall I’m having is the one the advertiser wants me to have.  

When the survey found that “people were 90% more likely to agree that these full-screen units are ‘an ad people will talk about’ compared to other display ads” it seems to me those respondents may not be lying. But they not be endorsing the ads, either.

I know I’m not totally alone on this. Those mischief makers at AdBlock Plus saw this story and tweeted, sarcastically, “ ‘People don't care about ads that take up the whole screen.’ That's why over 250MM users downloaded Adblock Plus. Sigh.” That does seem to be a valid point, too. There is the Hippocratic oath: “First do no harm.” To which we might append a 21st century update: “And stay out of my face.”  
10 comments about "Do Consumers Really Like When Advertisers Hijack Their Screens?".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, January 24, 2014 at 2:09 p.m.

    Consumers obviously appreciate the lack of clutter of the single-sponsor approach. Doesn't surprise me in the least.

  2. Grant Bergman from •, January 24, 2014 at 3:15 p.m.

    As alluded to in the article, there was no attempt to standardize the messages between ad formats. It is therefore impossible to tell if people were simply responding to better ads or if, as the study's sponsor might like us to think, we consumers really want to have our online experience hijacked.

    Commonsense tells me there's more PR than objective market research behind Undertone's decision to release the information. speaking for myself only, having my browsing sidetracked when I'm "on the hunt" for information is about as welcome as spam and telemarketers.

  3. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, January 24, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.

    It has nothing to do with being hijacked. Consumers don't care where they consume the content of their choice as long as they can do so without interruption. It's the interruption they won't tolerate. Why is this so hard to understand?

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, January 24, 2014 at 5:13 p.m.

    I agree with Mike ... but I'd love to know the actual 'likability' scores. For example, if 1.5% of people liked then compared to an average of 1% then that is a "MASSIVE 50% UPLIFT" ... but it's still just 1.5% that would have liked it.

  5. Tom Goosmann from True North Inc., January 24, 2014 at 6:59 p.m.

    The one clear takeaway from this story is Mediapost needs to temper publishing studies from companies selling the product everyone surprisingly now loves.

  6. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, January 27, 2014 at 5:10 a.m.

    Correlation != causation. It's quite possible that full-page ads are liked more because they have better production values, not because they take over the page. If I were going to spend extra money on full-page "take over" adverts, I know I would take the trouble to make them good ones.

  7. Ned Newhouse from Conde Nast , January 27, 2014 at 8:24 a.m.

    I think Pete is correct. Good ad with higher production values can be information. But the keys to not screwing up are critical. One don't abuse the privilege by jamming one full screen ad after every page view. Two keeping it relevant. An ad for a cruise is information inside a revel story. An cruise ad inside this story is not. The problem has historically been network tags and publishers will grab every piece of real estate they can. Don't you love your customers?

  8. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, January 27, 2014 at 1:11 p.m.

    Did the study ask/tell the consumer that full screen ad on your smartphone just cost you $ from your data plan?

  9. Sarah Prater from LIQWID, January 27, 2014 at 2:50 p.m.

    People love artful advertising and hate interruption. Advertising should be entertaining, impactful and peripheral to content, not interfering with it. The takeover and skin style ads fail not only because they can disrupt the viewer experience, but according to our data they cannot be seen on nearly 50% of screens with smaller screens. But there are solutions on the market today to these challenges. For example, LIQWID ( is the first responsive ad delivery platform allowing a single 100% viewable and responsive LIQWID Ad to deliver ads with tremendous production value across devices, without disrupting the viewer's experience or interrupting content. In fact LIQWID Ads improve the viewer experience since the creative will always show perfectly on any fixed or responsive website, on any screen size on any device. Publishers can create a magazine-quality look at feel with content on one side of the screen and ads on the other -- like a half page ad in a magazine. They can schedule specific ads to specific sites and site sections and control reach & frequency, impression pacing, etc. to keep ads relevant.

  10. John Watkins from Watcom, February 5, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

    If you have to hijack my screen I don't mind as long as 1 second later I can delete the offending ad. I want advertising that I look at when I want to which is almost never.

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