Earlier this month Kantar’s 2018 Dimension Study found 72% of people say they’re seeing the same ads over and over again.

This might be an innocuous case of advertisers trying to hit optimal frequency levels, but given the same study found 65% would prefer to see more relevant ads, there’s a definite suggestion people are seeing too much of something they don’t want.

The problem seems likely to be caused by ads online. The same study found more people (33% v 25%) claim to enjoy TV ads on a TV set when compared to a laptop or mobile; the same is true of printed magazines vs online print (32% v 26%).

The problem is further highlighted by the 56% who often see ads online for products they’ve already purchased, and 64% who would like greater control over the ads they see online.

Therein lies the problem for those advertising online: people are aware of the targeting abilities the medium provides advertisers. They’ve been chased by ads and heard the stories about Facebook data. This means the wrong ad online isn’t tolerated in the way it might be for an offline channel, because people know we can do better.
Better online advertising will adhere to three rules:

1) It doesn’t spam.
The low entry costs and low CPM’s of online media make it easy to bludgeon an audience with ads until a few convert. But as people who use the internet, we all know that too often it becomes too much. Advertisers and agencies have the data available to tell when that extra impression is useless, or when a person has already purchased the product in the ad. Data can tell us who not to target as much as who to target.

2) It considers context.
Online media is unique in the number of different contexts in which it is accessed. This makes it all the more important to consider what people are doing in the moment your ad appears, and if it’s a moment your ad should be present.
People actively seeking information want messages which help them; those simply killing time want something that entertains. Publishers and ad-networks have helped cram advertising into every corner of the internet, but advertisers and agencies need to ask which are right for the message they have.

3) It says something interesting.
Online video may be the ‘hand-me-down’ of TV, just as banners are from print. But to copy and paste the creative across from either is to ignore how these formats are then being consumed online.
The competition for attention online couldn’t be higher, and for those who find your ad irrelevant it couldn’t be easier to skip past it. So there’s a need to design messages for those contexts they are to appear in, rather than simply transpose what is running elsewhere.

The industry’s traditional threat of not getting online advertising right is the threat of adblocking. But a far greater concern should be the negative impact it has on prospective customers – as they can not only spot lazy online marketing, but get annoyed by it too.