Do Your Users Hate Your Online Ads?

A Look at the Most Hated Online Advertising Techniques

Do You Place Ads On Your Website?

It’s no secret that online advertising is one of the best ways to generate revenue from your website. Content driven websites around world rely on selling virtual real estate to advertisers, and in turn advertisers rely on traffic from ads to drive people to their own sites. Placing ads on your website is profitable, cost-effective and ubiquitous. However, too many or, worse, poorly placed ads can actually do more harm than good, driving users away from a slow, ugly, badly performing site.

The highly respected Nielsen Norman Group did an in-depth study to find the worst offending types of online ads, both on desktop and mobile. We’ll do a breakdown here of the four worst ad types for each platform, plus show you the latest techniques for getting eyeballs on your ads – without sending your visitors packing!


#4: Deceptive Links

You’ve probably seen these on a number of unscrupulous blogs or sites. Sprinkled throughout the text of an article, these links seem innocent enough at first, but tend to take you to clickbait posts or other places that serve only to drive revenue for the site they are on, and don’t contain any helpful information.

#3: Intracontent Ads (With Content Reorganization)

It’s pretty common these days to see boxes with ads in them strategically placed inside of a website’s content. What really drives visitors nuts, however, is when the page gets rearranged when an ad shows up and makes them lose their place when reading. If you opt to use intracontent ads, it’s best to set a static container for them to live in so your page doesn’t get reshuffled every time an ad loads.

#2: Autoplay Video

Sites that autoplay video ads before presenting their own video content really seems to irritate most viewers. Not only is autoplay disruptive – sound can kick on automatically, plus you have to wait for the video to load in most cases – but preceding it all by a paid advertisement is a quick way to get your visitor to bounce.

#1: Modals

The most hated online advertising techniques is also one of the oldest: the venerable (and reviled) pop-up. The humble modal window is the ad type that angered the most people the most consistently. Think twice before hijacking your visitor’s reading experience to jam an ad in their face! Chances are they won’t like it, and providing a bad user experience is bad for business.


#4: Deceptive Links

It’s no surprise that users disliked deceptive links when surfing on a mobile device. It just goes to show that people don’t like being tricked into clicking on an ad under any circumstance.

#3: Preroll

Much like the autoplay ads on desktop, users were not fond of video advertising that they are forced to watch before being able to view the content.

#2: Intracontent Ads (With Content Reorganization)

Users definitely felt strongly about ads that wind up reorganizing a page as they load. It takes long enough for most sites to load on mobile as is, and it can be very aggravating to start reading an article, only to have the page jump somewhere you hadn’t intended. This, along with #1, were considerably more despised by mobile users than any other technique.

#1: Modals

Poor old pop-up ads. Modals took the number one spot for most hated among mobile users as well. It certainly seems that visitors just don’t like having a pop-up thrust in their face no matter what device they use.

The Takeaway

There you have it, a list of the ad techniques that users hate the most. That said, these insights shouldn’t deter you from advertising, but rather inform your advertising strategy. Users have come to expect advertising as a means for brands to monetize. Besides, how else would you have found out about the Dollar Shave Club had you not seen their advertising all over your Facebook newsfeed? 

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) releases reports and new ad formats regularly to give brands a means to engage users without provoking frustration or irritation. When done right from a messaging, creative, and placement standpoint, ads can be effective and even useful to users. If your ad ops team is placing advertising haphazardly, our team will happily get you out of the danger zone with a resistance free ad strategy.

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