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Ad avoidance online 'reaches record high'

The majority (84%) of 25-34 year olds have left a favourite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising, according to new research.

The study, carried out by, reveals the extent of resistance to badly-targeted online advertising, particularly among younger consumers.

The annual study, 'Consumer Attitudes to Online Advertising', shows that 73% of web users have left a favourite website because of intrusive or annoying ads, rising to 84% for 25-34 year olds, an increase of over 20% on the 2007 findings.

As many as 59% of web users have also stopped visiting a website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising, rising to 70% for 25-34 year olds, a staggering increase upon the 2007 figures of 16% and 14% respectively.

The independent research, conducted by Opinion Matters among 1,046 adults aged 16+, also reveals that gambling sites, financial services companies, car companies, and household goods and beauty brands were some of the worst 'bad ad' offenders; web users cited ads from, Dulux, Ford, Garnier, Halifax and L'Oreal as being particularly annoying or intrusive.

Bugbears included ads with loud noises, pop-ups covering web content, and ads that were difficult to close, minimise or click away from.

However, the research also shows that younger consumers in particular are actively engaging with online video content, with 83% of 25-34 years old and 74% of 16-24 year olds stating they have watched an online video, compared to a national average of 70%.

When asked what would be the effect of a video ad on their favourite website, 56% of 16-24 year olds and 44% of 25-34 year olds said it would make them more likely to purchase the brand, compared to 38% of 35-44 year olds and 29% of 45-54%.

According to Peter Mitchell, CEO of WWAV Rapp Collins Media Group, the research results should give agencies serious food for thought: "This research highlights the need to apply a customer-centric approach to online advertising and should be welcomed by agencies and brands alike.

The industry must re-examine what the web does best and create content that is relevant and entertaining, and that plays to consumer interests. Online video, for example, presents an exciting opportunity that breaks new ground and in the process delivers new opportunities for brands and consumers to positively interact."

Russell Goldsmith, Co Founder and Digital Director at, comments: "The survey highlights the urgent need for both brands and media owners to re-think traditional approaches to online advertising.

The difference in behaviour between younger and older web users is testament that the mass audience model is a strategy that doesn't necessarily work in the online environment, and is one that risks alienating web users and negatively impacting on propensity to purchase.

"The positive feedback generated by video content in our survey, particularly among younger consumer groups, suggests one way forward. However in my opinion, the often uncapped pre-roll ad strategy is not necessarily the solution.

If brands can marry the power of online video with relevant, interesting, needs-based content, they can achieve maximum cut through and engagement with a targeted online audience, and achieve the ROI they are seeking.

"This research should serve as a rallying cry for the industry. Brands, media planners and media owners need to work together to create a new model, which delivers highly-targeted, engaging and relevant content to consumers. The alternative is to risk a high level of value destruction which will be detrimental to everyone's interests."

The research for was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 25th April 2008 and 28th April 2008 amongst a nationally representative sample of 1046 UK adults aged 16+.

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