A new study published on advertising in Europe suggests advertisers aren’t doing as well as they think they are. More specifically, Adobe research shows consumers feel that brands are underperforming when it comes to delivering relevant ads – particularly in the UK.

Worse still, advertisers seem to be under the illusion they’re doing better than they actually are at getting their marketing messages right. So what does this tell us about the current state of digital advertising in the UK?

 

Advertisers overestimate their performance

According to Adobe, only 33% of UK consumers think brands are doing a good enough job of delivering relevant ads. This is significantly lower than consumer opinions in France (40%), Germany (49%) and the US (38%).

This goes against the opinions of advertisers themselves, who seem to think they’re doing a better job than consumers do. France is the only exception here, where advertisers have a slightly lower opinion of their performance than consumers.

 

People in the UK hate irrelevant ads

In a separate study by the Audience Project, 31% of UK respondents listed offensive and irrelevant ads as their main reason for using ad blockers. Another 31% said websites are more manageable without ads and 23% cited poor loading times as their reason for using ad blockers.

This essentially confirms the two accepted challenges advertisers face: delivering relevant ads in a way that doesn’t negatively impact on user experience. There’s another problem though – particularly with consumers in the UK.

 

UK consumers are split on personalisation

The obvious answer to delivering more relevant ads is personalising your marketing messages – and 34% of UK consumers say this would improve their perception of online ads. However, 27% of respondents in the same Audience Project study said personalisation would worsen their attitudes to online ads.

So what are UK advertisers to do when consumers are split on the notion of personalised ads? Well, it’s been known for some time that UK consumers want more relevant ads but they’re concerned about privacy issues. This leaves us with a catch-22: we can’t deliver personalised ads without tracking user behaviour but a lot of these users don’t want to be tracked.

 

Advertisers should be doing better

The problem with these stats is they simply look at the overall landscape of advertising in the UK. While it’s true that advertising technology isn’t quite ready to make personalisation feasible on a large scale, we have more than enough resources to deliver relevant ads to users across multiple platforms – and many brands are doing this effectively.

By mapping out the consumer journey and attributing your leads to their position along the buying process, delivering relevant ads isn’t out of reach. We certainly have the ability to gather this data and the targeting options necessary to get pretty granular with our marketing messages.

It’s not that advertisers can’t do this; they’re not doing it.

We’ve certainly got enough to please more of that 34% who want personalised ads without upsetting the 27% that don’t. Knowing what users are looking for at different stages of the buying process and targeting them with relevant messages is enough in most cases – and we already have the tools to do this.

The problem is that not enough advertisers in the UK are making the most of the resources they have available – and the majority of consumers are unhappy with the results.