Americans feel advertising is communicating better, but not improving


Research shows that 62% of Americans feel advertisers are doing a better job of communicating with them than in the past, but only 23% think advertising is changing for the better and only 12% say they generally like or enjoy advertising, according to Kantar Media’s 2018 DIMENSION study.

When it came to feelings about advertising on different platforms, respondents were most likely to say they liked advertising in the cinema (26%), followed by print magazines (24%) and linear television (24%) and least likely to say they liked advertising on blogs (10%), online video games (11%) and music streaming services (13%).

Demographically, younger generations were more receptive to advertising: 15% of 18- to 34-year-olds and 19% of 35- to 44-year-olds generally like or enjoy advertising, while only 9% of 45- to 64-year-olds and 8% of those 65 and older felt the same.


Manish Bhatia, CEO of Kantar Media North America discusses the data and it’s implications.




1. What was the biggest surprise from these findings?

Consumers are savvy about advertising. They recognize that brands are reaching out to them through multiple channels, including social media, paid search and other types of messaging that aren’t traditional ads. And they recognize that marketers are creating multimedia campaigns to reach out to them, and doing lots of analysis to try to target the right ads to them. Of course, this can mean that they also hold advertisers to a high standard, and quickly recognize when advertisers get things wrong.

2. Why do you think such a low percentage of respondents generally like or enjoy advertising?

Looking at our DIMENSION findings, only 36% of the respondent stated that they disliked advertising. 12% of US consumers said that they liked advertising; another 51% said they weren’t bothered by it. Having two-thirds of consumers being open to hearing your message isn’t a bad starting point for marketers, but of course, it can and should get better. To help the industry keep score, Kantar Media has developed the Ad Positive Score, which is an index of consumer attitudes on advertising. This is the second year we’ve measured the Ad Positive Score and at 58.4 it is slightly improved over last year’s score of 58.1. We’ll continue to measure ad positivity over the years to come to see if brands are able to improve consumer perceptions of advertising.

3. Why do you think consumers enjoy advertising in cinema, print and linear TV the most?

In general, consumers tend to be the least positive about digital advertising, which is understandable: If they’re not delivered properly, they can be intrusive, irrelevant and repetitive, and consumers are also often being deluged with them. And behavioral targeting can lead to consumers being followed across the web by products they’ve viewed, leading to concerns about privacy. By comparison, ads in traditional media are more likely to stay within established boundaries, and can also offer up a lot of entertainment value. There’s a reason why Super Bowl ads get thousands of views on YouTube along with lots of social media buzz, and many readers enjoy the ads in fashion magazines almost as much as the content.

4. Which demographic is most receptive to advertising?

In DIMENSION’s surveys, we actually found that consumers ages 35-44 were the most receptive to advertising, with 19% agreeing that they like advertising and find it enjoyable, as compared to close to 15% of those ages 18-34 – and less than 9% of those over age 45. Part of this trend is due to lifestage: Consumers ages 35-44 are in their prime earning years and may often be raising families and moving into new homes. They are doing a lot of purchasing and are attuned more to advertising in general.

But this trend may be generational as well. Gen Xers and Boomers tend to be more brand loyal, and also grew up with more linear media where ads weren’t targeted and couldn’t be easily skipped. Meanwhile, millennials are highly savvy media consumers and digital natives who aren’t overwhelmed by the flow of content and ads everyone faces today, and are comfortable navigating it to get the information and offers they need.

5. How can advertisers improve their communications and resonate with consumers more?

One of the leaders interviewed in our report – Jean-luc Chetrit of UDA, a leading French advertisers’ association – said it best: “It’s time to get back a contract of trust with the public.” We need to focus on delivering a strong overall experience – which means showing consumers compelling creative in the right time and place, and at an acceptable level of frequency. More than anything else, we in the industry need to respect consumers’ time – and make sure we are relying on the right data and insights to help us do that. Data may tell you that showing the same ad to an audience over and over will deliver a few sales – but it may not show that you’ve also annoyed hundreds of people in the process and damaged your brand. It takes a lot of analysis and planning to make sure you hit the right mix.


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