Group 35

Why you should avoid interruptive ads

Polygon 18

Basic manners apply: it’s rude to interrupt. Interruptive advertising, particularly interruptive video advertising, has a uniquely annoying presence.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of us agree that we dislike online pop-ups (Hubspot/Adblock), but half of online ads are going unseen (Digiday). It’s no longer enough to be in the peripheral. This makes interruptive video advertising appealing, it demands to be seen and heard – and it’s inescapable.

But it’s not as effective as we hope, and the ROI is dwindling. It’s not about if we see the ads, it’s how they make us feel and what kind of behavior that leads to.

A Carnegie Mellon University study found that intrusive ads significantly lower the willingness to pay for goods associated with the advertising brand (Journal of Interactive Marketing). That means that viewers are not just developing a distaste for the particular product or service that’s being advertised, they’re developing a distaste for the entire brand. And that can affect all future advertising efforts, no matter how they experience it.

Eighty-nine percent agree that “certain ads, like pop-ups or ads where I have to click X to remove them, are really frustrating to deal with.” We don’t like them because they are annoying/intrusive (64%) and they disrupt what we are doing (54%) (Hubspot/Adblock) – who knew?

This is leading us to install adblockers at an alarming rate (myself being one of them). Ad blocking on mobile devices grew 90% in 2015, and was used by 419 million people in March 2016 alone (InformationWeek). When most of us (41%) find out about adblockers through word of mouth (Hubspot/Adblock), this number is only growing in 2018 and beyond.

Now none of your interruptive ads are being seen, and that means manpower and dollars down the drain.

So, what are the better alternatives?

Native advertising can create a more pleasant consumption experience.

Most of us understand that advertising is a necessity to keep our favorite forms of entertainment up and running. In fact, 68% of us say we’re fine with seeing ads, but only if they are not annoying (Hubspot).

The most positive experiences include:

  • Email newsletters
  • Sponsored posts
  • Television commercials
  • Online display advertisements
  • Email advertisements or promotional sale announcements


Predictable advertising can make even make the experience more enjoyable. Subjects who watched TV with commercials reported greater enjoyment overall—and were willing to pay more for DVD collections of shows by the same director—than subjects who watched without interruptions (HBR).

It simply gives us a break, and retriggers the enjoyment throughout the experience. Commercial breaks can also be used as a tool, giving pause and creating suspense. Internet and social content were not designed to be interrupted, there is no natural pause.

But sponsored content, or advertisements that play before or after a video, can provide that same pause and retriggering. This can lead consumers to spend more time online, and therefore increase the odds of seeing another ad and interacting with your brand.

Interruptive advertising is a great way to be loud, but it’s not the best way to be heard. Before you invest, it’s best to know what you’re signing up for.