Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Consumers are growing more critical of social media ads

Social media users are becoming increasingly aware of the ads being shown to them on social platforms and, in turn, becoming less trusting of the ads they see, according to research from Integral Ad Science.

The survey of 1,100 US consumers found that 96% of people have at least one social media account, with 85% of them engaging with a social ad at some point in the past year, reflecting a huge opportunity for brands. However, misinformation on social media has made 38% of consumers less trusting of the ads they see on their feeds.

“As the future of walled gardens evolves, our latest research will help marketers think differently about their ads and the importance of context in dynamic social media environments,” said Tony Marlow, Chief Marketing Officer at Integral Ad Science. “Consumers have developed more critical eyes for ads on social platforms, so brands need to adapt as well by tapping into the latest technology to align with what’s relevant and avoid unsuitable content.”

Notably, social media sites should be aware that 59% of consumers hold them responsible for ads appearing next to inappropriate content, compared to 36% who blame advertisers. Meanwhile, 47% of consumers have an unfavourable view of brands which appear next to unsuitable content.

Nonetheless, it’s important that brands don’t avoid trying to reach consumers in contextually relevant environments, because 46% of people are likely to remember a social ad if the message relates to the surrounding content, with 41% feeling more favourable to these brands. Moreover, 32% of those surveyed are likely to purchase a product or service if the social ad is contextually relevant, while 60% are unlikely to purchase something advertised next to unsafe content.