That’s just obnoxious: 9 online ad types that drive viewers nuts

online ads
by: Shannon Givens , June 25, 2019

As an advertiser, you likely understand the reasons behind the placement and content of online ads. As a consumer, though, you may be among the many who find plenty of these ads intrusive and annoying.

The vast range of annoying ads is increasingly driving ad blocking, which has become problematic for advertisers over the past couple of years. Through 2017 some 86.6 million Americans are slated to make use of ad-blocking tools, a 24 percent jump over 2016. And by 2020, analysts predict, ad blocking will be making a $27 billion annual dent in industry revenues.

In response, advertisers are challenged to rebuild some trust by creating online ads that are less “in your face” and more palatable for viewers. As a result, we’re seeing advertising that’s subtler, more entertaining and/or more informative, with fewer of the gimmicky strategies that make viewers feel they’re being tricked into brand exposure.

“Companies that rely on tired advertising campaigns will lose more business than they realize as people ignore and actively block their content,” advises Andrew Chapin on “To excite rather than repel your audience, take a page from the app developer playbook and design ads from a user experience standpoint.”

If you wish to build a reputable brand reputation — and glean favorable ratings from Google, which takes initiative to under-rank ads that seem spammy or overly intrusive — you may wish to avoid unleashing these kinds of online ads on an increasingly intolerant public.

  1. Large ads located “above the fold” so they’re the first thing a viewer sees after loading a page. While one banner ad is generally fine, Google tends to downplay sites with multiple above-the-fold ads.
  2. Floating or overlay ads that block key content (or an entire page) until they’re closed. Viewers who don’t feel like finding the “X” will simply back out, racking up your bounce rate.
  3. Interstitial ads or “roadblocks” that redirect to an entirely different URL, prompting disgruntled viewers to believe they’re being spammed — and making it a hassle to return to the original site.
  4. Ads that automatically and unexpectedly crank up the audio; these can embarrass viewers when they’re online in a public place (or worse, at work).
  5. Ads disguised as valid content. Unethical publishers use these to drive more traffic to pay-per-click ads, by means such as “related content” links or useless navigation toolbars.
  6. Ads that glaringly and repeatedly interrupt content. This is a common tactic, but is considered poor site design by Google. “If you want to place an ad within your content, it might be best to limit it to only one per page,” recommends Anca Bradley in Entrepreneur.
  7. Mobile ads that are clunky, difficult to interact with, time-consuming and/or incomplete compared to their digital versions.
  8. Retargeted ads offered up to viewers based on their previous internet actions. The practice gets results but can feel a little Big Brotherish; some 35 percent of consumers find it annoying, reports one study.
  9. Pop-up ads that try too hard for the add-on sale during the checkout process. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to vex customers already giving you their money.

In general, analysts are seeing marketers veer toward better compliance to guidelines and a stronger focus on consumer experience in their campaigns.

“People don’t hate ads in and of themselves; they hate ads that are irrelevant, annoying or preventing them from achieving a particular goal,” agrees Chapin. “Design ad content so it flows naturally on the page and enhances the user experience.” 

Learn more about how digital  ad display can complement your call marketing campaign at Custom Toll Free.

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