Corporate Eye

Annoying Ads Cause 1 in 3 Consumers to Leave a Website

annoying adsAre your brand’s ad annoying consumers? One out of three consumers will leave a website because they’ve been annoyed by ads on the site. More than one in ten will stop using the product advertised or boycott the company doing the advertising if an ad annoys them, and nearly one in ten will complain to their friends about it. An even higher number, nearly two out of three customers will unsubscribe from future emails from the company behind the ads while nearly one in two will simply ignore future emails from the company.

Bottom-line, your online ads must be relevant and must never appear “spammy.” That means an increased effort to target relevant ads and a focus on transparency to clearly communicate your company’s honest advertising practices are more important than ever.

This data comes from a Harris Interactive study by InsightsOne (via eMarketer), which shows that consumers do understand the difference between spam and non-spam ads. However, irrelevant ads are often put in the “spam” category simply because they annoy consumers. In fact, when asked what kinds of online ads annoy them the most, consumers listed irrelevant pop-up ads as the most annoying type of ad (70%). Ads for products and services consumers don’t need were ranked as the most annoying by 58% of consumers.

Keep in mind, online ads aren’t the most annoying to consumers. That award goes to television ads. Online ads ranked in third place.  Here is the breakdown of the leading source of annoying ads according to internet users in the United States:

  • Television ads = 60%
  • Email/sidebar ads = 55%
  • Website = 52%
  • Postal junk mail = 37%
  • Social media = 37%

Again, the most important takeaway from this study is that targeting is absolutely essential. An annoying ad isn’t simply ignored by consumers. Instead, an annoying ad moves consumers to take actions that advertisers and website owners don’t want. When a consumer clicks away from a website upon seeing an annoying ad, stops using the advertised product, and complains to their friends about it, the negative effects can be quick and far-reaching.

In other words, if you can’t get the data you need to effectively target your online ads, don’t bother. The days of putting an ad out there and hoping for the best are over. No data should mean no ad.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Image: Bob Smith

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.