Where are online ads failing consumers and what can advertisers do to boost engagement?


Advertisers that continue to rely on ‘one-dimensional, channel-centric’ metrics risk further eroding consumer confidence in online ads, according to Anthony Capano, managing director of Rakuten Marketing Asia Pacific.

The marketing solutions provider undertook a global survey of more than 2500 consumers, including 500 Australians, to gain insights into how digital adverting in perceived. It was discovered that 82% find online advertising to be intrusive, while nearly seven in ten (69%) stated that it needed to change. Further, 58% associated online advertising with ‘fake news’ and other disruptive content.

The perception of online advertising amongst respondents wasn’t entirely negative. The study revealed that 44% believe online advertising on desktop has improved, while 66% said they had clicked on an ad with the intention of purchasing. Critically, a majority (81%) indicated that advertising is OK when the content is useful and does not disrupt their internet experience.

In conversation with Dynamic Business, Capano unpacked the findings from the Rakuten Marketing study, identified where online advertising must improve and the need for transparency in influencer marketing.

DB: What are the key pet peeves for consumers?

Capano: More than two in five survey respondents (43%) told us they have had a bad experience with advertising. In Australia, 54% of consumers feel that a single brand was advertising to them too frequently, with 70% having received ads for products that they have already purchased. A high number of consumers also indicated that they have left a website displaying an ad, cleared their cookies to stop receiving ads from a particular brand and have avoided websites they associate with disruptive online advertising.

DB: What is fueling negative consumer attitudes?

Capano: The last 20 years have been a period of outstanding innovation in advertising technology; however, the industry has failed to modernise the way advertising is measured, to match the complexity of today’s consumers. The industry peppers the internet with digital ads, using one-dimensional, often channel-centric metrics, rather than ads that drive meaningful experiences. This has resulted in a loss of consumer engagement, with 45% of consumers proactively opting out of an online ad.

DB: What can advertisers do to better engage people?  

Capano: Advertisers can improve the online experience for consumers by adapting the way they measure online activity. Specifically, advertisers should stop looking at advertising metrics as if they only exist in-and-of themselves, and start looking at the broader context surrounding the entire consumer experience. This means looking at the role each marketing touchpoint plays throughout the path to purchase, and adjusting accordingly. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, marketers can improve their online advertising by:

  • Investing in a robust attribution solution to gain insights into – and a complete understanding of – the consumer journey.
  • Creating targeted strategies, fuelled by data insights, to drive greater personalisation.
  • Capping the frequency of ad impressions.
  • Adhering to the new code introduced by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), which requires social media influencers to disclose advertising relationships with brands and advertisers.

DB: Why should advertisers adhere to the AANA code?

Capano: Influencer marketing is an extremely powerful tool when it is managed well and the brand is focused on authentic influencers driving authentic content. Our survey found that globally, 71% of people who follow an online influencer frequently make purchases based on their recommendations.

Two in three survey respondents (66%) said they trust influencers to give them an unbiased view of a product or service when they’ve disclosed their relationship with an advertiser. Relevantly, respondents indicated that transparency is important, with 80% stating that it is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important that an influencer discloses their relationship with advertisers.