Taking a Pulse on Advertising

By Amanda Silva, kNOW Research Manager at Critical Mix. She can be reached at [email protected].


This article is part of a series of on-demand research conducted by kNOW Instant Insights, exclusively for the 4A’s. Check out the previous articles on organic foods, data privacy, and CBD-infused products.

The landscape of advertising is constantly evolving. New technologies, Millennials, aging Baby Boomers, and shifting social climates shape and re-shape the way advertising is consumed and perceived. But despite the negative connotation that advertising sometimes has, 41% of adults like or even love advertisements according to a survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by kNOW, an on-demand survey product from global insights provider Critical Mix, exclusively for the 4A’s.

Among the remaining respondents, only about a quarter of adults (27%) report disliking or hating ads. Those at the two ends of the age spectrum are the least favorable towards ads, with 36% of 18-24-year olds and 34% of ages 65+ saying they dislike or hate ads.

Almost half of survey respondents find television advertisements to be trustworthy, while less than 10% trust online ads, such as banners and pop ups. Twenty-nine percent say that they do not trust any ads, regardless of the medium. Grocery store and restaurant advertisements are trusted by more consumers than any other product or service (49% and 36%, respectively). Advertising for medical equipment and financial institutions is trusted the least, with each only being selected by 12% of respondents.

The top three most annoying or intrusive types of ads in order of mentions are online ads, such as banners and pop ups, ads on social networking sites, and mobile ads. At only 19%, radio was the least annoying form of advertising to respondents.

According to survey findings, 67% of adult U.S. consumers take active measures to avoid advertising at least some of the time. The most popular way to circumvent ads among respondents is watching shows on paid-for streaming services, such as Netflix or Hulu. Millennials are most likely to pay for TV streaming services, with almost half of all reporting as such. The second most popular method is simply switching between stations, whether TV or radio, when ads are playing. Only 13% report paying for satellite radio or premium versions of music streaming services to avoid advertising while listening to music.

Of the 82% of respondents who watch videos on YouTube, 45% report always skipping the pre-roll ads, with the other 55% watching them at least some of the time. Females are slightly more likely to always skip the ads: 49% compared to 42% of males.

As we’ve seen in the past, advertising can go bad even for the most established brands. Pepsi, H&M, and Dove have all come under fire for what critics have deemed to be “tone-deaf” advertising. Despite the negative press, the controversial ads seemed to have very minimal effect on each of the respective brands. More than half of the survey respondents were unaware of the ads in question and 20% or less reported the ads as having a negative impact on their opinion of any one of the brands.

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