For US consumers, advertisements are seemingly everywhere.1 Many of the entertainment services consumers use are funded (at least in part) by ads, which makes them more affordable. That’s one of the reasons why ad-supported streaming models—which allow consumers the flexibility to scale up and down their entertainment costs and help services retain customers through cost-effective tiers—continue to grow in popularity among consumers.2 In fact, Deloitte’s Digital media trends, 15th edition survey found that more than half of the US consumers use ad-supported streaming music and video platforms.3 The study also found that more than four in five consumers use social media services, which also rely heavily on advertising.4
However, consumers aren’t equally influenced by all ads. They find ads on some of these services less memorable and more annoying than others. But what if they were more appealing? Could that unlock higher consumer engagement and retention?
In our survey, we asked consumers to rate the ads they experience on media of all types—pay TV, streaming services, social media, search engines, radio, streaming music and more—and to indicate which ads they found most annoying and which they found most memorable. A negative score means consumers find the ads more annoying (than memorable), whereas a positive score means the ads are considered more memorable (than annoying).
Our data found that consumers have a range of sentiments toward ads (see figure), depending on where they experience the ads.5 Those that pop up while streaming music or video content and while playing, or watching, video games score lower on the scale. This could be because they often disrupt the streaming or gaming experience for the user and they may also lack personalisation. Conversely, ads on social media platforms have a higher net positive score among consumers. These ads are less disruptive to the user experience and are often precisely tailored and targeted to an individual’s preferences.6
There are clear generational nuances in sentiments toward ads on digital platforms. Generation Zs (Gen Zs) favour music and gaming over other entertainment activities,7 but they consider ads on these platforms to be more annoying than memorable. However, younger generations don’t find all ads annoying: Gen Zs and millennials consider ads on social media platforms and ads from social media influencers to be more memorable, suggesting a preference for ads that are personalised and seamlessly integrated into their media experiences.
These elements of personalisation and integration—which are central to targeted ads on social media8—may be a way to increase ad recall for all consumers across digital experiences. For instance, six in 10 consumers say they’d be more satisfied with their viewing experience if the ads were more targeted and relevant to them.9
Along with personalisation and ad integration, some consumers also value having greater control over their ad consumption, with 63% of consumers agreeing that they would like the option to select the ads they see when streaming video content.10 Two aspects of this desire for control may be repetition and contextualisation. For instance, eight in 10 consumers say there is too much ad repetition and nearly six in 10 agree that ads during TV shows and movies would be more effective if they were related to the content.11
Understanding how to deliver memorable and enjoyable experiences through ads may be key for marketers and service providers, especially as ad-supported streaming models expand and look to retain consumers. The challenge remains: How can ads go from a dreaded disruption to a more valuable, immersive streaming experience?
Frame nuanced ad strategies: Future ad strategies should account for the range of consumer experiences and interactions across platforms and could benefit from approaching ad delivery in more nuanced, thoughtful and engaging ways.
Customise ad experiences: Memorable ads are valuable, but focussing on more targeted ads could be key. Contextualising ads and making them relevant to the content the consumer is watching, listening to, or playing is the next step in customisation. Further personalising ads based on consumers’ interests could help dial up ad recall and enable marketers to get even more value from their campaigns on streaming platforms.12
Create new ad formats: New and innovative ad formats that are designed for streamers or for specific platforms could be powerful tools for minimising streaming breaks, cutting through the ad clutter and driving consumer engagement.13 The production of more non-intrusive and immersive ad experiences could be key to digital ad strategies.
Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) industry practice brings together one of the world’s largest group of specialists respected for helping shape many of the world’s most recognised TMT brands—and helping those brands thrive in a digital world.