Brands need to strongly consider digital ad placement if they want to retain their loyal customers and attract new ones.

A new study titled, “How Brands Annoy Fans,” conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council using the Pollfish platform, nearly half of all consumers indicated they would rethink purchasing from brands or would boycott products if they encountered brand ads alongside digital content that offends them.

The study, which gathered opinions from 2,000 adult consumers in North American and the U.K., assessed the impact of digital advertising experiences on consumer perceptions and purchase intent, finding that consumers are punishing even preferred brands if they don’t use trusted media platforms or take steps to control the integrity of their ad environments.

With trust being the critical factor, respondents unequivocally stated that they will no longer give their brands a pass for even inadvertent display of ads near objectionable digital and video content. A full two-thirds of respondents said they would hold a dimmer view of brands that provided negative advertising experiences.

What’s more, respondents ranked friends, TV, search engines, and newspapers as more trusted sources.
About 60 percent of respondents said offensive context has already caused them to consume more content from trusted, well-known news sources and established media channels.

“CMOs and brand advertisers are increasingly concerned about various aspects of digital and programmatic advertising, including concerns about their ads showing up next to offensive content," said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “This consumer survey demonstrates that those concerns are well founded. Advertising placed next to objectionable content is damaging to a brand while ads that accompany more trusted content and media are more accepted.”

While other brand safety studies have explored adverse brand perceptions, the CMO Council research asked consumers about their response to the experience of finding brand ads in proximity to objectionable content or fake news sites; 37 percent of consumers said it would change the way they think of a brand when deciding to buy; 11 percent said they would flat-out not do business with that brand; another 9 percent said they would become vocal critics of the brand.

Here are some other key findings from the report:

A surprising 86 percent of consumers are either extremely concerned, very concerned, or moderately worried about how easily they are directed or redirected to hateful or offensive content.

The most annoying digital advertising formats, even when appearing on trusted media channels, were intrusive pop-up ads (22 percent) and auto-playing video ads (17 percent).

Attention to digital advertising overall was notably low, with only 14 percent always engaged and 58 percent saying they pay attention only when ads either interest them or are really interesting.

Just over 40 percent of consumers have already installed ad-blocking software on their devices while another 14 percent said they planned to add these features.

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