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Is Digital Marketing Meeting Consumer Need?

A new study by Adobe says digital marketing is missing the mark with consumers. The company’s new “Click Here: The State of Online Advertising” report polled thousands of consumers and marketers from seven countries on the effects of online marketing. According to Adobe’s research, 32% of consumers and 21% of marketers believe online advertising, such as banner ads, are not effective.

“Banners have brought much of the worst characteristics of advertising—being intrusive and manipulative, catching one’s eye with hyperbole, and using surreptitiously-captured information—into the digital space,” noted David Edelman, global co-leader of digital marketing and sales practice at McKinsey & Company, in the study. “Consumers realize they are now in control and won’t accept it. Yet, beyond banners, there is a lot of online marketing content that consumers do interact with, and the era of creativity to explore what works is just beginning,”

The majority of consumers in the United States find online advertisements annoying and distracting. While 54% of U.S. consumers do not wish to see Web banner ads, only 33% of U.S. marketers agreed. Sid Shah, director of business analytics and advertising at Adobe, says U.S. marketers’ dismissal of online advertising comes down to three components: format, measurement, and reach.

“When talking about online advertising, marketers often think about banner ads, video pre-rolls, splash ads, etcetera,” says Shah. “Those tend to be highly intrusive, trigger negative reactions, and the ROI on those kinds of campaigns is limited. Many marketers avoid them and prefer to look at ads that can let them connect with their audience and individual interests instead.  Social ads on Facebook or Twitter—for example, search ads on Google or Yahoo/Bing—connect on a personal level and tend to be much more effective.”

Both consumers and marketers say they prefer ads in print magazines and television. Sixty-six percent of U.S. consumers and 49% of U.S. marketers believe television commercials are significantly more important and effective than online advertisements.

“Digital marketing has created a remarkable opportunity, but it comes with higher expectations from consumers,” wrote Ann Lewnes, CMO of Adobe, in the report. “They expect a story tailored specially for them, a level of trust and transparency with the brands they do business with and, most importantly, a great experience. Brands delivering anything less will ultimately be ignored.”

Although online advertising is viewed as unpopular in the report, Shah says that certain areas are indeed growing. Shah cites promoted Facebook and Twitter accounts, Google’s Product Listing Ads, and mid-roll video ads as increasingly popular online marketing tactics.

“It’s not just a question of whether the medium works or not, it’s also if it is executed well,” says Shah. “Think about the punch the monkey banner ads in the 90s. Did anyone think they actually worked? Now think about a personalized ad experience that is tailored to where and when a consumer is in the sales journey. That would do a lot better.”

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