You know what I haven’t seen in a while? Popup ads.

There’s a good reason for that. Popups are a nuisance that consumers revolted against en masse and they’re now blocked by many internet browsers. The lesson is that intrusive ad formats — and annoying ads in general — may go the way of the woolly mammoth before too long. If consumers don’t find a way to block them, they’re going to tune them out. The way forward isn’t to find sneakier ways to interrupt users with ads. Instead, marketers should find ways to delight consumers with their messaging. They’ll need to ask for customers’ attention, not demand it.

Do consumers really hate ads?

You can place ads in front of people, but you can’t make them care. Consumers have been ignoring online ads for years (or blocking them outright), and this trend is only going to accelerate.

Why are ads so despised? It’s not because people hate the intrinsic idea of being advertised to. In fact, only 8% of consumers want to receive absolutely zero marketing, according to a survey by MarketingSherpa. Social Media Today’s Aaron Miles has a spot-on explanation: “People don’t mind advertising, but they want it personalized, and they want to get it in the way they prefer.”

That’s the exact opposite of many digital ads today. It’s bad enough that they hit people with unwanted messaging. Even worse, they do so while butting their way into consumer experiences. They’re irrelevant and interruptive, and consumers are sick of it. Maybe there’s a better way. Marketing doesn’t have to be something we force onto consumers. Instead, it can be good enough that consumers choose to listen. And if we make our ads worth their while, we’ll generate not only sales, but goodwill too.

So, how do you create ads that people love? Try these adjustments:

Experiment with consumer-friendly ad formats

The way you present your ad is often as important as the ad itself. Sure, you could reach consumers with popups, but would you want to immediately turn them off with a format that’s been universally despised for years? Or needle them with in-banner autoplay (a majority of consumers dislike them) or unskippable pre-roll ads (which get a negative reaction from 63% of users)?

The less consumers see an ad as an interruption, the better they’ll receive it. That’s why 44% of consumers have a positive reaction to skippable pre-rolls — an ad isn’t so bad if you can skip it after five seconds. It’s also why Snap Ads win five times more clickthroughs (or “swipe-throughs”) than other ads. These types of ads don’t force you to listen. They invite you to. And consumers react positively when they’re given more control over their experiences.

Make your ads worth seeing

Speaking of pre-roll, there’s a rare breed of video ad out there. It’s the skippable pre-roll that you don’t want to skip. I’m talking about marketing like Kmart’s “Big Gas Savings” ad…

… or even Volkswagen’s ad that skips itself before you can do so. (Which, weirdly, might make you want to watch it more.)

These ads work with the consumer by providing exactly what viewers come to YouTube (and many internet destinations) for: entertainment. Because they’re what viewers want to watch, they perform way better than you’d expect a typical ad to. For example, “Big Gas Savings” racked up over 4 million views on YouTube — crazy stats for a piece of marketing.

As consumers increasingly tune out marketing they’ve seen over and over again, the ads that will outperform will be the anti-ads — ads that are entertainment first and marketing second.

Go for the non-ad

By the way, we might be onto something with that anti-ad thing. Good examples appear all the time for non-ads that attract a lot of positive attention. Like when Gary Vaynerchuk bought a Snapchat Geofilter for $62 and got 229,713 impressions for a $0.27 CPM. Who knew Geofilters could be insanely fun and effective for getting the word out?

Or when Kylie Jenner posted her Fashion Nova ad on Instagram. It was an ad, technically, and it was labeled as such. But it didn’t feel like one — it was simply Kylie wearing clothes she loved. Fans responded enthusiastically: The post brought in over 2 million likes and sent 4 million followers to clothing brand Fashion Nova. That’s influencer marketing throwing its weight around. And it works: Influencer marketing campaigns bring in $6.85 in media value on average for every dollar spent.

Curious about influencer marketing? Check out our free guide to learn how to partner with bloggers and social media stars to get big results.

Obsessed with my new @fashionnova jeans 🍑Get them at FashionNova.com 😍 #ad

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Gary and Kylie know marketing. Both of them offer an important lesson: You succeed big time when your audience sees your ads first and foremost as valuable content.

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