Stop Annoying Your Audience

Stop irritating your audience with annoying advertisement and become their friend instead...

21 Aug 2018 2641 Views

Written by Madalina D. Manole

Even though Web 2.0 and social media has been around for some time now, many marketers are still having a hard time understanding its true purpose. As opposed to many other media channels, social networks were developed to link people together and connect them in collective conversations (Fournier and Avery 2011). These networks were developed for consumer empowerment. As much as you, the marketer, would like to leverage on these channels, the truth is, you often end upannoying your audience even more than just being absent. You brand becomes the “uninvited crasher of the Web 2.0 party” (Fournier and Avery 2011). In fact, one ad blocker alone has been downloaded over 200 million times (Goldstein et al. 2014).

The consequences for your brand manifests not only financially, when cost outweighs revenue, but annoying ads can also lead people to questioning your brand’s reputation. More than that, annoying advertisement is less likely to have an effect on and be remembered by your audience (Goldstein et al. 2014). Keep reading to find the tell signs of annoying advertising and how you can instead create a meaningful experience for your audience.

How to figure out if you’re annoying your audience

  1. Isn’t it annoying when someone calls you only when they need you?

Well, that is how your customers might perceive your advertisement efforts. If people see what your brand is up to only when you want something from them, be that their attention, their click or their engagement, you are applying the old media methods (Deuze 2016). Endlessly pushing advertisements is not the way to operate online in the Web 2.0 era. Asking your customers to be receptive to your ads without offering anything in return, wasting their time with useless content or interrupting them are just a few mistakes you might be making (Goldstein et al. 2014). In essence, these tactics would not be so problematic. After all, marketers used them for the past many years, from print to TV ( 1999). The difference today is that your audiences can notice your mistakes more than ever.

People are constantly connected nowadays and spend up to 10 hours a day online ( 2017). The Economist (2017) suggests the average person touches their smartphone more than 2,600 times a day. While the obvious opportunities seem endless when it comes to reaching larger, more diverse, audiences, more often, the risk of annoying them are far greater.

  1. Do you like to be interrupted when you’re in the middle of something?

I didn’t think so. Me neither. Interruptive marketing (Godin 1999) refers to ads that break into a person’s life uninvited. This tactic was used with both print and TV ads through commercial breaks or telemarketing calls. And while this was the way for marketers to reach audiences in the past, that does not mean it was the best way. You could again be making the mistake of applying old marketing methods and not understanding what social media actually means for its users. People might have accepted you interrupting them in the past, but they certainly do not want you to interrupt them now. They are realizing their power to ignore marketing and so should you.

Several sources confirm the most annoying type of interrupting online ad is the Pop-up ( 2016, 2016, 2016). “X” buttons that do not work when you try to close an ad further fuel the annoyance and interruption.

Annoying pop-up example

Image 2: Annoying pop-up example; Source:

A first place challenger is the annoying ads that take up your entire screen space or expand over the content you are trying to read.

Annoying full screen Ad example

Image 3: Annoying full screen Ad example; Source:

Auto playing videos on websites, especially ones including loud sounds are also among the most annoying interrupting types of ads.

Some worthy annoying ads mentions are: sponsored posts that are not obviously marked sponsored; Ads with misleading links; Ads that drain your battery life, especially when thinking mobile-first ( 2016, 2016, 2016). It is also important to commemorate our elderly and remember the old email spanning technique.

To sum up so far, if you want to stop annoying your audience, avoid “talking” to them only when you want something in return, and stop interrupting them when they are in the middle of something else.

Nonetheless, people do not inherently hate ads; they hate bad ads ( 2016). People want to buy and shop, but the more you annoy them, the less likely they are to shop with you.

How to create a meaningful online experience for your audience

Become their friend

Take your advertisement game one-step further and become your audience friend instead of the uninvited party crasher. Becoming a friend means people will want to talk to you, share their stories and ideas. You will be able to stop stalking your audience and, instead, become participant to the online community. You will be able to gain access to your customers much easier and use them as your innovation source (Fournier and Avery 2011).

However, becoming a friend is not an easy task. It required passion, determination, involvement and commitment.  One way to develop your friendship is through sourcing, creating and promoting quality content. According to the Content Marketing Institute,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action” ( 2017).

  • Sourcing content can seem challenging at first. “What do I want to talk about?”, “What does my audience want to hear?” are common questions you might be asking yourself. One way to answer them is to start user-generating content (Smith, Fischer, and Yongjian 2012). Using your online platform to enable and encourage conversations can become an eavesdropping mechanism into the social conversations and help you discover your customer’s pain points or generate new ideas. Using this method, you are able to gain insights into your customers uncensored opinions and react accordingly, all while leaving the social conversation flow, showing they have the power (Smith, Fischer, and Yongjian 2012). Sourcing content can also happen internally. Your employees are valuable experts when it comes to what your customers might want to know or discuss (Vernuccio 2014).


Some great examples of Instagram UGC include Adobe, Starbucks, Netflix or BMW.

Great Instagram User Generated content picture Adobe

Image 4: Great Instagram User Generated content picture Adobe; Source:

Great Instagram User Generated content picture Starbucks

Image 5: Great Instagram User Generated content picture Starbucks; Source:

Great Instagram User Generated content picture Netflix

Image 6: Great Instagram User Generated content picture Netflix; Source:

Great Instagram User Generated content picture BMW

Image 7: Great Instagram User Generated content picture BMW; Source:

  • Creatingthe content is probably the most challenging part of the process; there is no glove to fit all hands. Content form depends on your audience digestion preferences and your resources. Learn more about global trends here.

To give a starting point, the major types of content consist of blog posts, including How-To or List Posts, Thought Leadership posts, News or Infographics;premium assets, including gated eBooks, Research Reports, Webinars or Tools and Templates; and visual content, including Infographics, Slide Shares and Videos ( 2015). Right now, videos, news and social media posts are the types of posts consumed the most in-depth and what people value seeing in the future ( 2016a).

However important the delivery, the punchline is probably the most interesting. Your content insides are what truly matters. People want to hear relevant information from an authentic voice, helping them solve their specific problem. The topics you chose for your content marketing depend on what is interesting for your audience. One mistake example is “jumping on the bandwagon” and talking about what is trending now, ignoring your own customer’s concerns ( 2016). Read more about other types of mistakes to avoid here.

  • Promoting your content is what can transform you from annoying, uninvited brand to a welcomed friend. When you are ready to communicate your value bringing content to your customers, do not lose the race on the last mile. Some actionable tactics to stop annoying your customers with your advertisement include the usage of native ads (Das et al. 2016, Wojdynski anzd Golan 2016), visual elements or new technology developments, such as AR or VR, automation, “hyper-personalization” or Mega Metrics ( 2017).
Great Sponsored Content Native Ad Example The Atlantic

Image 8: Great Sponsored Content Native Ad Example The Atlantic; Source:         

Great Sponsored Post Native Ad Example The Onion

Image 9: Great Sponsored Post Native Ad Example The Onion; Source:

Native ads can take the shape of advertorials; instant content, which   appears in your audience feed even if they do not follow you; search advertisement, which pop up alongside Google search results; recommended content or sponsored links.  Many social networks like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram now provide native advertisement opportunities. This form of reaching your audience is far less intrusive, provides adequate ROI metrics and offers a much better experience for customers discovering or interacting with your brand ( 2016b). Some example include the following Sponsored Content and Sponsored post:

  • Video marketing has been the hot topic of 2017. To no surprise through, since 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% watch videos online every day ( 2017).More than that, videos are easy for your audience to digest, especially mobile users or lazy readers. Video ads are able to convey your message clearly and concisely in a short time and enable you to “speak face-to-face” to your audience, resulting in less confusion, more trust and more shares. Lastly, video ads are also a  strong conversion driver and work great for SEO ( 2017). A great example is this small, instructive videocreated by Facebook to teach their audience how to better use reaction stickers.
  • New technology development is at the core of the new way of advertising – “experiential marketing” ( 2017). The future will rely heavily on how brands make us feel and how you can create an emotional connection with your audience instead of simply selling ( 2017). Augmented or Virtual reality will enable customers to immerse themselves in your brand experiences and you will be able to measure how much they enjoy your by tracking their pulses via smartwatches for example ( 2015a). National Geographic CMO Jill Cress reinforces this by saying:

“Today, [advertisers] are focused a lot on the vanity metrics, like views, impressions, and clicks…We feel like we are at a moment where we will see an ambition and a shift to emotional connection and the psychology of the consumer. That’s how brands will differentiate” ( 2017).

More than that, by reaching different consumers with different messages through hyper-personalization, your brand can enhance its authenticity and trustworthiness and make each ad receiver feel special and unique. Based on new metrics and better segmentation tools, you can tweak your ads to promote the content that seem relevant and interesting for each customer ( 2015b). Have a look at another campaign exampleby FacebookIQ, this time aimed at businesses, addressing how they can use and understand Facebook Live metrics and insights.



Reference list

Barwise, Patrick, and Seáan Meehan. 2010. “The One Thing You Must Get Right When Bulding a Brand.” Harvard Business Review(December): 80–84. 2015, “Content marketing strategy guide”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2017, “2017 year of video marketing”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2016, “7 of the worst things about online advertising”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2017, “The future of advertising – Automated, personalized and measurable”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2016, “Avoid content marketing mistakes”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2017, “What is content marketing”,, Accessed 18-11-2017

Das, Soumyava, Akshay Soni, Ashok Venkatesan, and Debora Donato. 2016. “Organic vs. Sponsored Content: From Ads to Native Ads.” Proceedings – 2015 IEEE/WIC/ACM International Joint Conference on Web Intelligence and Intelligent Agent Technology, WI-IAT 2015: 229–30.

Deuze, Mark. 2016. “Living in Media and the Future of Advertising.” Journal of Advertising45(3): 326–33.

The Economist 2017,, Accessed 18-11-2017

Fournier, Susan, and Jill Avery. 2011. “The Uninvited Brand.” Business Horizons54(3): 193–207.

Godin, Seth 1999. “Permissive marketing”, Published May 6th 1999 by Simon Schuster, ISBN 0684856360

Goldstein, Daniel G et al. 2014. “The Economic and Cognitive Costs of Annoying Display Advertisements.” Journal of Marketing Research51(6): 742–52. 2017, “Virtual reality and augmented reality are the future of digital advertising”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2016a, “Why people block ads and what it means for marketers and advertisers?”, HubSpot Research, Accessed 18-11-2017 2016b, “Native advertising rises as consumers opt out?”,HubSpot Research Accesed 18-11-2017

Smith, Andrew N., Eileen Fischer, and Chen Yongjian. 2012. “How Does Brand-Related User-Generated Content Differ across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter?” Journal of Interactive Marketing26(2): 102–13. 2017, “How much time do people spend online on social media – infographic”,, Accessed 18-11-2017,“Advertising techniques and tactics”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2015a, “The future of advertising – What will 2025 look like”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2015b, “Personalized marketing digital future”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2016, “5 worst types of digital advertising”,, Accessed 18-11-2017

Vernuccio, Maria. 2014. “Communicating Corporate Brands Through Social Media.” International Journal of Business Communication51(3): 211–33. 2016, “New data on why people hate ads”,, Accessed 18-11-2017 2017, “The 9 Key advantages to video advertising”,, Accessed 18-11-2017

Wojdynski, Bartosz W., and Guy J. Golan. 2016. “Native Advertising and the Future of Mass Communication.” American Behavioral Scientist60(12): 1403–7.

Like this post? You'll find more marketing insights in my new book: International Brand Strategy: A guide to achieving global brand growth, now available from booksellers globally. Order your copy here.

BrandBase | @BrandBa_se
Students from the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University are the contributing authors for the BrandBase blog.