By Ben Simmons
As Facebook prepares for its long-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) and consumer fears mount over how their personal data could be used to subject them to greater volumes of more intrusive advertising, British and American consumers are warning of a major backlash as more than one in four British and one in five American consumers online would stop using a product or service- such as the social networking site- if they were subjected to too much advertising.
The findings are revealed in the 2012 Digital Advertising Attitudes Report from Upstream which commissioned YouGov to poll the online views of 2,054 UK adults aged 18+ in the UK and 2,105 in the USA on a range of digital advertising issues.
The findings come as a stark warning to all consumer-facing companies as nearly two thirds (66% each) of British and American online consumers already claim they feel subjected to excessive digital advertising and promotions. The 2012 Digital Advertising Attitudes Report reveals that while 27% of British consumers would stop using a company‚s products or services entirely as a result of receiving too many advertising messages, nearly one in three Brits (32%) would be less likely to respond positively to that company in the future. Furthermore around one in five (19%) British 18-24 year olds would publicly complain about that company to their friends on Twitter or Facebook.
However, the 2012 Digital Advertising Attitudes Report reveals that consumers are not generally dismissive of digital marketing and advertising but understand that it can be useful. More than two in every three (69%) British and American adults are happy in principle, to receive marketing and advertising on their PC, mobile, tablet or MP3 player. To make the British user more likely to respond positively to the marketing, the advertising must be tailored to the consumer‚s personal interests (26%), specific to their location (22%), and contextually relevant to what they are doing (21%). As a general rule the majority of British consumers (66%) do not wish to be targeted more than once a month, while 18-24 year olds are most amenable to being targeted as frequently as once a week or more (21%).
"The volume-based advertising era is dead on both sides of the Atlantic and companies need to put effectiveness first, reducing the frequency with which they speak to consumers, delivering only high quality, relevant and timely messages," said Marco Veremis, President of Upstream.
"Marketing and advertising has today become so pervasive across every format and channel that any company not heeding this stark consumer warning is likely to have the opposite effect they intended. While the specific appeal of Facebook to investors is its ability to target advertising to consumers based on interests, location and context, advertisers should be aware that the marketing technology now available allows them to cover two other equally important aspects: to make sure the frequency of advert exposure is right for the person in question, and that the phrasing of any advert is proven to be the most likely to elicit a positive response."
Consumers poised to un-like ill-considered mobile advertisers
As speculation mounts over Facebook‚s imminent first steps into the world of mobile marketing such as inserting 'featured stories' into people's mobile feeds, the 2012 Digital Advertising Attitudes Report warns that consumer openness to advertising is lowest on mobile phones versus any other device such as PC, laptop or tablet.
The vast majority of Brits (64%) and Americans (67%) would find it most unacceptable to receive unwanted advertising on their mobile phone/smartphone over other electronic devices. There is a further warning that mobile display advertising is not the way to go. Less than one in six (11%) Brits and 15% of Americans who have surfed the internet on their mobile phone have ever clicked on a mobile banner advert and only one in every 100 Brits who surf on their mobiles and 1 in 50 Americans click on banner adverts frequently. The vast majority of those who surf the internet on their mobiles (79% in the UK and 72% in the US) find banner advertisements on their mobiles or smartphones irritating.
Consumers are not generally averse to being marketed to, but the past decade of ever-increasing volumes across all available channels is finally taking its toll," added Veremis.
"Mobile is the next frontier in advertisers‚ sights, driven by the promise of long-anticipated developments in handset technology and marketing opportunities in apps, such those rumoured for Facebook."
However, marketers need to be especially mindful that the mobile will always be a deeply personal medium and to avoid a backlash, any advertising must be personal, intimate and targeted. Companies must avoid repeating the mistakes of the one-to-many broadcast and volume driven online advertising years and especially on mobile, they should focus on using short, text-based ad formats instead of intrusive graphical banners.
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