We’ve hit the mid-year mark for 2018, and a lot has already happened in the ad tech space: Google Ad Blocker, GDPR, net neutrality, and much more. These looming events influenced many of the digital advertising trends predicted for 2018, but with Q1 and Q2 in the rearview mirror, are those year-end predictions really coming to fruition? And more importantly, how has consumer sentiment shifted over the past year given recent trends?
To answer these questions, we conducted a survey of 502 randomly-selected U.S. consumers—a census breakdown of 53 percent female, 47 percent males. Our 2018 Digital Advertising Trends Survey explores consumer experience with trends that were predicted to impact the digital advertising industry in 2018. These include most influential ad platforms and types, devices, ad blockers, gender stereotypes, and data privacy.
The results revealed that consumer sentiment opposes many of the trends predicted for 2018, including the rise of video, voice, and ad blockers, and that recent digital advertising trends might actually be aggravating consumer distaste in online advertisement. It also brought to light that many consumers are unaware of how these developments affect them.
Ad Platforms and Types
Facebook (54 percent) and Google (44 percent) remain the most influential platforms for advertising followed by Instagram (23 percent), Spotify (28 percent), and Pandora (24 percent). Despite increased budgets on Instagram, it still falls far behind the duopoly; however, among the 18-29 age group, 60 percent said they were influenced by ads on Instagram.
Mobile has continually been predicted as the leading digital advertising channel in 2018. However, only 45 percent of respondents said they were more likely click on an ad on their mobile device, while 41 percent said they’re more likely to click on a desktop.
Despite video being a major predicted trend in 2018, 72 percent of consumers do not prefer video ads over other types of online advertisements. Surprisingly, it was not the youngest group (18-29) but rather 30 to 44-year-old respondents who prefer videos (38 percent) over any other age group. Industry headlines and reports also suggest a growing opportunity for voice search advertising, however, the survey revealed that only seven percent of respondents said they’re influenced by ads served through Google Home, and six percent through Amazon’s Alexa.
Connected TV advertising budgets also do not align with consumer sentiment. 17 percent of consumers agreed that they’re influenced by ads on internet-connected TV, and that number increases to 29 percent within the 18-29 age group.
Consumer Sentiment and Behavior
The survey found that 54 percent of respondents have not used an ad blocker in the past six months, contradicting industry reports and predictions. However, recent digital advertising trends might actually be aggravating consumer distaste in online advertisement. 43 percent of respondents felt negatively towards advertisements, compared to a similar survey from April of 2017 where only 34 percent reported a negative sentiment, which reveals that hard feelings may be on the rise. The reasoning behind the negative sentiment included being shown the same advertisement multiple times (25 percent) and advertisements slowing down the webpage (19 percent).
According to our Gender Stereotypes in Advertising survey from 2017, 25 percent of respondents agreed they would be more likely to buy from a brand who breaks gender stereotypes. But when asked if they’d noticed a change in gender stereotypes in advertising only 13 percent of consumers have noticed a significant increase in brands breaking stereotypes since that time, and 27 percent say they have not seen a change.
Internet users are becoming more and more aware of how–and where–their data is being used. But are we doing enough to educate them on why, how, and where their data is used?
Perhaps not. When respondents were asked their level of understanding around personal data use, 44 percent of respondents answered that they are not very knowledgeable (26 percent) or not at all knowledgeable (18 percent) about what personal data online companies have about them. Beyond privacy awareness, 63 percent of respondents understand that some companies do sell their personal data to other companies to make money, and 89 percent do not think companies are doing enough to protect their data.
Even with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) being a major news topic over the past year, 60 percent of consumers did not know what the regulations entail or how they could be affected. However, 78 percent of respondents think the U.S. government should adopt stricter privacy and security standards and forty-four percent think that the websites that are showing the ads should be responsible for eliminating ads with false information.
Based on the results, we uncovered that recent industry events have caused a broad shift in the trajectory for digital advertising– and specifically how consumers perceive the currently employed strategies. The survey did reaffirm that consumers are expressing a greater affinity towards connected devices and being served advertisements through streaming services like Spotify, but it may be in the best interest of advertisers who have pillared their efforts in trends such as video or voice to revisit strategies; especially if they wish to keep pace with consumers’ evolving online behaviors.