Newspaper Ads Aren’t the Problem, People Love ‘Em!

Believe it or not, newspaper ads and readers aren’t sworn enemies. People love ads, at least if they’re packaged and delivered the right way.

Consider how people flock to watch Super Bowl ads. They talk about them for weeks. Magazines are famously packed with advertising from back to front. And movie trailers, which are beautiful ads, can go viral in a matter of hours.

If consumers don’t mind digital news ads and might feel empty without them, the problem with ad revenue might lie somewhere else.

Readers Tend to Block Annoying Ads, Not Every Ad

Newspaper publishers have done battle with ad blockers for a while now. But the fight could be short-sighted. Readers don’t appear to hate ever ad. They only want to restrict annoying ones.

According to joint research by HubSpot and AdBlock Plus, there’s a distinct pattern to advertising exasperation.

Which ads are most offensive?


    • Pop-ups: 77 percent


    • Mobile ads: 70 percent


    • Pre-content, auto-play video ads: 57 percent


    • Banner ads: 43 percent

Those are the big offenders, according to 1,055 people surveyed. Of those, full-page pop-ups were overwhelmingly the worst. That’s why ad blockers are so popular. HubSpot says blocking returns control to the hands of the user. And only 16 percent say they would disable an ad blocker for any reason if the website blocked content.

Advertising Style and Format Makes or Breaks the Ad

Sixty-eight percent of people surveyed said they have no problem with ads as long as they aren’t annoying. There’s something to build on.

Pop-ups, auto-play videos and obtrusive mobile ads, ads that eat a disproportionate amount of data and those that slow load time are out. They’re broadly regarded as obtrusive, and what ad blockers were invented for.

So what’s working? Ads with a more neutral experience. Neutral doesn’t equal stellar, but it’s much better than a negative response.


    • Email newsletters


    • Sponsored ads on social media


    • Native advertising

According to HubSpot, native advertising is the clear winner. It’s not disruptive, it’s shareable and it can be highly entertaining. It can also be a brand builder for the advertiser.

David Chavern for News Media Alliance thinks people aren’t as opposed to ads as commonly believed. Like the research shows, he says people love ’em. The problem, as he sees it, is that data has overtaken creativity. You can target all you want, but if the ad stinks so will its reception.

“Just look at some of the most common ad formats today, and how misplaced they are for the digital environment. A banner ad is just a print ad. Creatively, my grandfather could have written one. 15 and 30-second pre-rolls? Those are just repurposed TV ads.”

Engage the Consumer and You’ll Nail the Experience

Maybe you hate liver, but you probably like food. That’s the argument for advertising. People need it. How would anyone learn about a new product or service without it? And Beez Content says that in some forms, people secretly love ads.

Super Bowl ads are famously engaging. They make people laugh or think or take some kind of action. And they definitely encourage people to share, if only to say, “I saw it, too!” There’s a community element to those ads, and you’ll see it on social media during and after the game.

Business Insider says Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial has the distinction of being the most shared advertisement of all time. You can see why.

Engaging ads resonate with the audience. That’s why pop-ups fail. The concept might have been clever in the 90s, but that ship has sailed.

The future of ad revenue isn’t bleak. If anything, it’s uncharted territory. Early digital ads were little more than leftovers repurposed from TV. Digital is still in its infancy.

Chavern says:

“I don’t think that we know yet how awesome and engaging digital advertising can be. We don’t know how the medium is different (after all, it does change constantly), and what will really drive people to engage and consume. There really are no answers yet  –  which also means that we don’t know how great the answers can be.”

And that’s it in a nutshell. There’s nothing quite as promising as knowing there’s more to discover. People don’t hate ads. They hate being interrupted and pestered by something that isn’t relevant.

Data will tell you how to target ads. Creativity will lead the way to engagement. Subscribe to Recruitment ADvisor, and we’ll send you more relevant content on advertising and what’s trending in the newspaper publishing industry.

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