A new study from the CMO Council and Dow Jones reveals what consumers hate most about brands and their pesky marketing strategies. The report is based on data from more than 2,000 survey responses from the United Kingdom and North America, making it nice and relevant to brands here in the UK – even if 2,000 surveys isn’t the most extensive collection of data (still better than most “studies”).

The truth is there aren’t too many surprises in its findings, but the results show how many brands still get the fundamentals wrong.

People hate false promises

Like we say, no surprises on this one but the fact consumers list this as their biggest brand hate is interesting in the digital age. When it’s so easy for brands to be named and shamed for making false promises or providing poor service, it’s telling that this is still their pet peeve.

In fact, five of the top six concerns consumers have about brands are related to either misleading marketing messages or poor service/products:

  • 6% – False, misleading or phoney advertising
  • 2% – Not keeping promises or claims
  • 5% – Store personnel who don’t know the product
  • 3% – Bad product design or experience
  • 0% – Brands that treat customers poorly

You have to say those are basic business essentials consumers are still worried about most, which is incredible in the days of a transparent web.

Are ads getting better?

What’s interesting about the graph above is how low “Pervasive and intrusive ads in digital content, search and social media” comes. With only 5.9% listing this as their top concern, you have to wonder why there’s an ad blocker problem in the first place.

The thing you have to consider is the other concerns in that list basically revolve around dishonest companies that are going to take people’s money and fail to deliver on the product/service. Most people are going to be more annoyed about that than a few popups – but this doesn’t mean we can all relax about advertising strategies just yet.

Ask people which ads they hate most and you get a more passionate response it seems. Again, no surprises that popups annoy people more than anything while auto-playing video gets plenty of people riled up.

The most interesting result in there is how few people say promoted messages on social networks like Facebook bother them the most. Even lower is ads embedded into search results, which basically rules out PPC ads as something consumers have a problem with.

The only potential issue is the use of cookies and other technologies that collect data and track browsing activity. Aside from that, it’s ads that negatively hurt the users experience people are frustrated with – once again, the easy basics.

Poor ad experiences kill sales

And the last obvious statement for today is that people don’t don’t like buying from brands that annoy the hell out of them with poor ad experiences – who’d have thought it?

While we can’t seem to get decisive majorities in referendums or national elections, the people know what they want (or, at least, what they don’t want) when it comes to ads. Provide a poor experience and you can expect the vast majority to say goodbye for good.

Get the basics right

Marketing and advertising industries are always busy talking about the latest technologies and trends. Except, the majority of brands still get the fundamental basics wrong. There’s no point wondering what voice search, chatbots or any other kind of innovations can do for your business if you’re not prepared to start from the bottom.

Proving you’re a brand people can trust isn’t difficult, unless you’re lying about it. While creating great ad experiences becomes a whole lot easier if you pride yourself on providing the best service you can.