Marketers are missing a powerful opportunity to engage with consumers and deliver personalised experiences that drive brand affinity, according to research from Adobe Systems.

The State of Online Advertising study polled both consumers and marketers in seven countries across the US, Asia-Pacific and Europe and exposes new global insights into the effectiveness of online marketing. The research has been released in advance of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the largest gathering of advertising and marketing professionals held in Cannes, France, 16 to 22 June.

The study revealed that a significant portion of consumers and marketers feel online advertising is still not effective (consumers 32%; marketers 21%). Marketers in the US and Europe were the most dismissive of online advertising. Consumer and marketing respondents globally believe that banner ads do not work (49% consumers; 36% marketers).

“Banners have brought much of the worst characteristics of advertising – being intrusive and manipulative, catching one’s eye with hyperbole, and using surreptitiously-captured information – into the digital space. Consumers realise they are now in control and won’t accept it.
“Yet, beyond banners, there is a lot of online marketing content that consumers do interact with, and the era of creativity to explore what works is just beginning,” says David Edelman, global co-leader: Digital Marketing and Sales Practice at McKinsey & Company.

“The best marketers will focus on building their muscles in data to drive relevance, design to generate an experience that makes consumers feel good, and delivery to bring it on-demand. And as a side benefit, as consumers appreciate those experiences more, they will also value the marketing profession more highly, helping it attract the talent that will drive the right virtuous cycle.”

Traditional media such as print and TV received higher scores for credibility and effectiveness among consumers and marketers in all regions (traditional media 94% consumers; 91% marketers; modern/digital sources 52% consumers; 68% marketers). Respondents in Asia-Pacific were most likely to enjoy TV and print ads (42%), followed by European consumers (36%) and US consumers (31%).

Interestingly, text message ads in Asia-Pacific (34% consumers; 24% marketers) are not considered annoying compared to the US (62% consumers; 59% marketers) and Europe (62% consumers; 57% marketers).

“Digital marketing has created a remarkable opportunity, but it comes with higher expectations from consumers. They expect a story tailored specially for them, a level of trust and transparency with the brands they do business with and, most importantly, a great experience. Brands delivering anything less will ultimately be ignored,” says Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer at Adobe.

“These survey results demonstrate that we aren’t quite delivering on digital marketing’s full potential yet. We now have the technology and know-how to target relevant and personalised marketing messaging and media to our customers. Shame on us, if we don’t deliver on that.”

Across all regions, one-third of respondents agreed it is valuable when a website makes personalised product and service recommendations. Respondents in Asia-Pacific were less concerned than those in the US and Europe about sharing private information in exchange for more personalised and customised experiences online.

More specifically, respondents said they were comfortable with targeted advertising based on their behaviours (US 74%; Asia-Pacific 63%; Europe 71%).

However, some actions, like being asked to share personal information such as a government-issued ID number (such as a social security number) were viewed as crossing the privacy line (US 86%; Asia-Pacific 55%; Europe 60%).

According to respondents, the marketing profession was consistently ranked as one of the least valuable to society, although the profession is viewed most positively by consumers (24%) and marketers (47%) in Asia-Pacific.

While marketers across the regions (US 45%; Asia-Pacific 25%; Europe 28%) agree that marketing primarily helps inform consumers on brands, products and services, in Asia-Pacific, a significant percentage of marketers think it both educates (15%) and reflects and shapes cultures (14%).

In addition, US consumers “like” brands they regularly buy (53%) or that have promotions (46%), while consumers in Asia-Pacific (33%) and Europe (26%) are more driven to “like” by aspirations and brand personality (40%).