Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

User Frustration With Different Online Advertising Techniques

Therese Fessenden of the Nielsen Norman Group:

In 2004, we wrote about the most hated advertising techniques based on research conducted by Christian Rohrer and John Boyd. Online advertising has changed significantly since then, giving us plenty of new formats to test and new questions to ask. With that, we decided to run a study to determine which advertising techniques are most disruptive and detrimental for the modern user experience.

We conducted a survey with 452 adult respondents from the United States who were not employed in an IT- or marketing-related industry. In this survey, participants were shown 23 wireframes corresponding to different types of advertisements and rated how much they disliked them on a scale of 1 to 7.

You won’t be surprised by anything in the top five, but you may be surprised by how many respondents were not as bothered by retargeted ads as most other formats.

When you think about how many of these ad techniques can often be found on the same webpage, it’s no surprise that ad blocking is on the rise. It’s beyond the scope of this survey, but I’d be interested to see some research into the acceptability of anti-blocking techniques, and how likely they are to create paying subscribers or disable ad blockers.