Picnic/YouGov Survey Finds Brands are Wasting Budget on ‘Annoying’ Ads That Do More Harm Than Good

More than two-thirds of people (70%) find digital advertising annoying and unpleasant, while 72% say that bad advertising experiences have negatively affected their perception of a brand, according to new research that lays bare the real damage caused by excessive and intrusive ads.

The survey, from user-first media platform Picnic, in partnership with global public opinion company YouGov, shines a light on attitudes towards user experience of advertising on the ad-funded web – and reveals that poor advertising experiences not only achieve diminishing returns, but actively turn consumers off infringing brands.

Survey respondents identified ‘too many ads’ as the number one most annoying UX issue, followed by blocked screen content, accidental clicks, slow load speeds, and unstable page content, in that order. Eighty-six percent say that too many ads on a webpage make them feel overwhelmed and more likely to ignore the advertising altogether. 

For users who chose to comment on ad experience issues, there was a resoundingly negative attitude towards digital ads in their current form, with all answers expressing negative sentiment. Comments included ‘all advertising is annoying’ and ‘[ads are] annoying full stop’. 

Hope for the ad-funded web

Despite these negative attitudes, respondents are still fundamentally in favour of an ad-funded web. The majority of respondents reported enjoying reading free content from reputable publishers, and many say they like discovering new products and brands on the open web. Importantly, most participants also said they’d be more likely to feel positively towards ads if they were fast-loading, and didn’t force clicks or block content.  

Commenting on the survey, Matthew Goldhill, founder & CEO, Picnic, says, "If brands and media planners can shift their approach towards prioritising ad solutions that resolve user experience issues on the web, we as an industry can drastically reduce the amount of ineffective, wasted, and even damaging ad spend. This would not only be better for the environment, but would also help to drive more meaningful engagement and returns for brands."

Sean Golding, digital development director, AKA UK, agrees: "Minimising wasted ad spend is a top priority in terms of efficiency and brand safety. To prevent waste and increase engagement, we need to find ad solutions that deliver a positive user experience on trusted, high-quality publishers." Golding continues: "It’s a win-win for all. Advertisers will see improved campaign performance, and publishers will benefit from delivering ads that do not ruin their on-page content – keeping their readers engaged and coming back for more."


Picnic Media is a leading premium mobile ad formats company, delivering high-impact, social-style ad formats on a unique marketplace of the highest quality mobile inventory. Their intuitively engaging advertising campaigns allow advertisers to increa...
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