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Retargeted ads 'put more than half of people off buying'

23 Oct 2014  |  Ellen Hammett 
Retargeted ads 'put more than half of people off buying'

Over half (55%) of consumers are put off buying products or services if they see the same ad online multiple times, a new study published today by InSkin Media and RAPP Media reveals.

According to the research, only 10% of consumers are more likely to buy something after seeing the same ad served repeatedly because of their previous web surfing behaviour, while 53% said that online ads are initially interesting and useful but the more they are repeated the more irritating they become.

The study also reveals that people are four times more likely to be encouraged than discouraged to buy something if they see a relevant ad during their research on it. However, when an ad is seen up to five times it becomes 'annoying' and 'intrusive', and once it hits 10 times, 'angry' becomes the dominant reaction.

Reaction to frequency of retargeted online ads

"The retargeting-genie is certainly out of the bottle, but it's a fine line to tread as brands potentially lose control through a perfect storm of increased automated buying and the spectre of consumer cookie deletion," said Paul Phillips, RAPP's head of media strategy.

"Marketers and planners are negligent if they don't devote more careful planning around frequency caps and other contextual filters before letting the maths men hit the send button."

An ad viewed after research phase is over is 15% more likely to discourage than encourage a purchase. If seen after the product is purchased, its nearly four times more likely to discourage future purchases.

"It's not just about how many times the ad is seen, it's when it's seen," Phillips said. "Retargeted ads served after the research phase could potentially do more harm than good."

However, the report, based on a survey of over 1,600 people aged 20 to 60, found that ads seen multiple times are 40% more likely to be received positively if they are served on a website related to the ad content.

chart 2

In contrast, ads served on unrelated sites are over 11 times more likely to discourage than encourage a purchase.

The quality of a site was also found to have a big impact on how advertising is perceived, with people 37% more likely to click on an ad if it is on a site they trust.

The survey took respondents to view the same ad on different websites; a Land Rover ad on The Independent website was 71% more likely to be rated positively than on lesser-known site, Catster. Among women respondents, a Clinique ad on Marie Claire was 88% more likely to be rated positively than on lesser-known site, Instructables.

In terms of privacy, 69% of consumers said that they are uncomfortable with advertisers knowing which websites they've visited - only marginally lower than knowing their home address (72%) and current location (71%).

Commenting on the findings, InSkin Media's CEO, Hugo Drayton, said: "Along with understanding 'how often' and 'when', advertisers must pay more attention to 'where' - a big issue in programmatic buying.

"Ads perform better on premium, trusted or contextually relevant sites. As with too much repetition, ads served next to irrelevant content may have a negative impact on consumer purchase intent.

"The industry got carried away with retargeting. It's a powerful tool but it needs to be qualified by more thought and action to ensure it's used effectively. As an industry we risk alienating a generation of consumers. Online advertising is hugely powerful and positive, as long as it is used intelligently."


Familiarity, Frequency and Fine Lines is published by InSkin Media. Click here for more information.

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