Study Finds Which Types of Digital Ads Are Most Annoying for Consumers


A survey of US digital ad buyers reveals which types of ads are likely to be most annoying for consumers.

Research firm eMarketer commissioned Bizrate Insights to survey its panel of US digital buyers about the types of ads they found useful or annoying.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, two-thirds of US digital buyers thought autoplay video ads with sound were annoying, making them the most annoying type of online ad.

In second place is video ads that play automatically without sound, followed by audio ads on music streaming services.

The remainder of the list is made up of personalized ads in search results, social media, and websites.

Here’s the full list, along with the percent of respondents who say the type of ad is annoying:

  • Video ads that play automatically on websites with sound – 66.7%
  • Video ads that play automatically on websites without sound – 55.0%
  • Audio ads (on music streaming services or podcasts) – 47.4%
  • Ads that show up based on online searches – 42.4%
  • Static images on websites (banner ads) for products I’ve already purchased – 36.7%
  • Ads on social media feeds targeted to me based on my interests and behaviors – 36.3%
  • Static images on websites (banner ads) for products I’ve browsed but not purchased – 34.2%

A whole 10% of respondents said the don’t consider any digital ads annoying.

Based on this data, it’s easy to see that consumers prefer less intrusive types of ads, as long as they’re not too closely tied to their browsing/shopping activity.

That’s a difficult balance to maintain for advertisers, as ad support is necessary in order to keep content free.

EMarketer notes that over half of respondents say they use an ad blocker as of the July 2019 survey. It would be interesting to know if they’d be less likely to block ads if they became less “annoying.”

This article first appeared in

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