What Consumers Hate About The Digital Strategies Of Brands

What Consumers Hate About The Digital Strategies Of Brands

The shift is finally happening.

Brands have finally started to focus their attention on digital transformation, especially after last year’s pandemic.

According to Gartner’s survey, 74% of CMOs are expected to spend more on digital advertising in 2021.

Digital advertising offers many benefits to brands beyond traditional advertising strategies.

They are more cost-effective, tracking ROI is easier, and brands can precisely target and personalize ads for consumers. Brands can guide their consumers across the buyer journey from the awareness to the acquisition and retention stage by showing the right content at the right time.

However, despite the benefits they offer, it’s often heard that digital ads can annoy the consumers. We hear, especially about the data privacy debate, that ads are intrusive. The ill-feeling caused can even launch public movements making consumers exit the brand and engage with the competitor brand. 

The marketers’ intentions may be right, but a wrong turn in the digital strategy could leave the consumer with a bad taste in the mouth.

Let’s look at some strategies that brands get wrong that end up disappointing the consumers.

The Digital Strategies That Brands Get Wrong

  1. Over targeted ads

According to a study by a London-based mobile technology startup, 79% of US respondents said that they found targeted mobile ads to be annoying. One of the most common misconceptions of brands is that consumers deeply value targeted ads. There is a thin line between showing a relevant ad and a strategy that appears creepy. Unfortunately, brands often resort to the latter option while targeting consumers. Consumers are now wary of visiting websites because of this misplaced enthusiasm among brands for hyper-personalization. They also dislike retargeting ads that show products browsed or added to cart recently. Although the brand intends to remind the consumer to check out or buy the product, they find it too intrusive. Brands have to think of ways to not over-target the consumers while still nudging them along in the buyer journey.

  1. Irrelevant and low-quality content

While hyper-personalization might sometimes appear too invasive, brands must also be careful not to publish or promote irrelevant or low-quality content that is too generic. Google recognizes high-quality content and rewards the website with a higher search ranking. This leads to easy brand discovery. Google defines high-quality content as E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness). So, if the content lacks expertise or authoritativeness required to educate the readers, or if the brand appears untrustworthy, then chances are that consumers will not engage or purchase a product from the website. Similarly, the ads should be relevant to what the consumer is searching for. They will lose confidence in the brand if the ads are spammy, irrelevant, ill-timed, or carry misinformation or misinterpretation. 

  1. Subscription-gated content

Subscription-gated content is a common go-to strategy, especially for the B2B brands, to acquire the prospects’ contact information. Brands develop high-quality content such as ebooks, guides, and whitepapers and ask the prospect to sign up to download the free copy. When the prospect leaves behind their details, they are inundated with a series of emails and calls, leaving them frustrated. Sometimes the forms are so lengthy that prospects leave them midway without downloading the free copy of the high-value content. Brands must rethink their strategy of gating their high-value content. Consumers prefer to engage with good content regularly before contacting the brand. Keeping the content gated will create roadblocks in acquiring new consumers. Instead, brands should keep as much as possible of their content free and ungated so prospects can get a glimpse into their domain expertise and contact them proactively. 

  1. Not seeking permission to allow cookies

The new privacy rules, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), have mandated that consumers have the right to know how brands handle their data. Even Google has announced that they will phase out third-party cookies from Google Chrome by next year. While some smart brands have turned their attention to first-party data, others have started to give consumers a choice to choose what information they want to share with the website. Others insist consumers must accept cookies, or they don’t divulge the complete information to the consumer. This could lead to an erosion of trust in the brand. Brands must seek permission from consumers to allow cookies. They must also start preparing for a cookieless future before it’s too late. 

  1. Intruding with too many ads and content

According to a study, 85% of the respondents said they negatively perceive a brand with excessive or intrusive ads. Intrusive ads and content could be pop-ups that come while a consumer is reading something important (even Google hates them), clickbait or ads that come before or in-between videos. Consumers have now started using ad blockers as 64% of consumers find such ads annoying or intrusive. If a brand does not want to disappoint its consumers, it must find smarter ways to attract and engage them. They must create content and contextual ads that do not create hurdles in what the consumer is doing.


Consumers do not necessarily like being targeted with too many personalized ads or with content that has no relevance. Brands must learn to balance where they understand the consumer’s needs without appearing too creepy. A survey revealed that over 72% of consumers prefer seeing contextually relevant content. It further showed that 65% of consumers carry a favorable opinion about a brand if it served contextual ads. As we enter into a cookieless future where there will be no third-party cookies to provide information about a consumer’s behavior, brands have to rethink their digital strategies to acquire, engage, and retain consumers. A solution like a smart ad-tech platform will equip brands to understand their consumers better and show them ads and content relevant to them in a balanced and cost-effective way.