If people are ad blind, annoying online advertising won’t make them see

Dasha Oliinyk in

Blog/Other posts/If people are ad blind, annoying online advertising won’t make them see

The Internet is teeming with ads that we all are tired of. And advertisers don’t give a damn about it – they continue abusing the Internet space with ads. So a fair question would be – is it effective to advertise online when there is a glut of ads there?

What’s that great about online advertising?

No doubts, online advertising is drastically better targeted than almost any other type of advertising. It’s easy to make online ads personalized, time and place relevant.

Besides online ads are cost effective (comparing to tv and printed ads). Plus it’s possible to minimize risks by paying for short-term campaigns, making adjustments on a weekly/daily basis, performing A/B tests.

But probably the main reason why the Internet is heaving with so many ads is that they actually work. People still click!

Or do they?…

Do people click/react on the ads on the Internet?

Ads’ “clickability”varies. Some people might be willing to click one ad and ignore the other, and vice versa.

Here is where quality of ads matters. If poorly set up, shown to the wrong target, on the wrong site, with the wrong message, context – the ad is fated to be dumped by users.

Beside there are some behavioral tendencies among the Internet users that are worth paying attention to:


The number of active adblock plugins’ users is constantly growing. Just in one year, from 2014 to 2015, this number got 40% higher. According to different sources* around 200 million internet users actively use adblock plugins when going online (as of January 2015).

The adblock plugins became particularly popular in Poland, Greece, Sweden, Denmark and Canada. In case of Poland – nearly 30 % (!) of internet inhabitants are active adblock users. Just imagine it – 1/3 of the target audience doesn’t see your ads. It might not affect the ROI of an ad campaign – advertisers don’t pay for the ads that were blocked. However, it’s a number to consider when estimating the number of people your ad can reach.

The 2015 Ad Blocking report by PageFair
Adblocking: global user number 2010-2015 by Statista

The diagram about global ad blocking growth

Using the adblock plugins isn’t the only way to avoid online ads. More and more internet users tend to pay for premium accounts, subscription services that allow using the internet perks without ads (f.e. Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Spotify etc.).

Different privacy protection hacks, like using VPNs or incognito browsing, are becoming more popular too. They cannot fully remove the ads from the screen, but at least prevent advertisers from collecting users’ data, internet history and so on. This makes it impossible to target users based on their preferences.

Interestingly that even ads providers started to fight against super annoying forms of online ads. Google promises to ban pop-up ads on mobile phones starting from January 2017. It’s the first, but potentially not the last measure that will be taken to regulate the number of online ads.

Ad blindness

There are other phenomena – so called ad blindness and banner blindness – an ability to ignore annoying pop-ups, banners, other ads subconsciously. It’s not enough to put your ad in front of the user’s eye. You know where exactly and how to display it to be actually seen, not just ignored.

Privacy/quality concerns

People are not only tired, irritated, annoyed with online advertising. There are also privacy issues being involved here. The idea that advertisers know about us so much is scary.

Since ad makers started to gather geolocation data too, it became possible to track whether the person who clicked the ad afterward visited the store/cafe/event/whatever. Many people knowing that are just afraid to click. And this is a paradox here. On the one hand, advertisers try to craft super personalized ads, thinking that people are more likely to click on them. On the other hand, the internet users get concerned about their security when they see that the internet knows so much about them. So they avoid clicking such ads.

Besides many users confess that they had the negative experience with online ads. Usually, the things that are advertised aren’t of the best price/quality range.

How to advertise online effectively?

Definitely shouting louder, targeting more aggressively, making banners brighter and the “close” button smaller and harder to find – is NOT an answer. The harder you try – the more ignorant people will become.

Internet users nowadays can smell the ad trying to sell too hard from a mile away. And that makes them turn their faces away from it. To avoid that bad smell the ad should be humble, creative and smart, very accurately set up, appear on the right site with proper context. Only this way you can get through the wall of people’s suspicion and ignorance.

The Internet trends are changing constantly. It’s important to stay on top of them, predict, create and be the first to implement those trends.

Try not to follow whatever other advertisers do. Monitor the ads of your competitors and find the way to stand out from their approach.

Follow your own authentic path that will work for your concrete business. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Native ads

It was proved with numerous research that users’ eyes are more tolerant to native ads, which organically intertwine with the original content of the website.

The key here is honesty. One shouldn’t try to delude people by just hiding ads within the original content on the website. Such ads should contain a remark “sponsored by”, “advertised by” or just “ad”. The most popular example of native ads is search ads – the ones you sometimes see as first search results on Google:

Google result for successful online advertising

Interactive/entertainment/ engagement ads

Online ads in the form of interactive videos, games, cartoons, memes are usually positively perceived by younger generations, but not only. They feed people’s hunger to procrastinate while being online, satisfy a kid sitting inside every adult:


Loveable ads

No one can resist the ad that brings positive emotions, share values like kindness, friendship, love. Use emotions, add a human touch to your ad. Let it speak with the target (not tell them what to do):


What are the alternatives/add-ons to online advertising?

Reaching successfully the target audience is possible not only with ads. There are many methods that can function instead or in combination with ads. Here are the most effective ones from my point of view:

Content marketing

An effective content marketing plan (of high quality and SEO optimized) can be used instead of or work in combination with ads. Why to create the ads that look like content? Create and promote the content itself.

These two methods can co-exist and benefit each other. Like in case of advertising content, not a product itself. People are more likely to click an ad that doesn’t push them to buy something.

Influencer marketing

People tend to agree with those whom they trust and who have some authority for them. That’s why celebrity endorsement is so popular in advertising.

Instead of celebrities you can use niche experts, bloggers. Make a list of such people in your field, send them emails, offer to make a review of your product or tell them something interesting you do, so they are willing to mention you via their channels.

Remember nobody will do anything for you if you don’t offer something in return. Influencers care about their reputation, the number of their followers. Try to convince that talking about your company will help them to enhance those.

Cold emailing

Cold emailing has many similarities to online advertising. You can reach your target very precisely with it. Also emails are more personal than other alternatives. It creates a feeling of private conversation, makes the person think that you are talking directly to her/her (even though deep in our mind we all know that are just one of many). You can read more about how cold emailing works in practice here.

You can use cold emails in combination with online ads. For example, you send out emails to the target, and then when no reply you can target them with ads. Or vice versa.

It’s like getting a second chance to capture a target market. Very few people usually get converted the first time they see your banner, or get an email from you. Display online ads through remarketing after your cold emailing campaign is a great way to remind your target about your offer and increase chances for the conversion.

Instead of sum up…

The digital world would be so much different without annoying online advertising. And businesses can reach so much better results if they advertise online smartly. It requires the change of the mindset to reach the point when business realizes that and stop stuffing the Internet with screaming ads. But I truly hope this moment is near at hand. Any thought about this? Please share in the comments below.

If you need an external look at the marketing strategy you use, the way you reach your target – feel free to get in contact with our specialists. We will be happy to help!

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Dasha Oliinyk

Efficiency freak: passionate about marketing, branding and communication. Writing about B2B marketing and lead generation based on the experience I get while working for RightHello. Her fav book is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Crazy about The Beatles.