Transforming Digital Advertising: Less Is More and Relevance Is Key

A Shift in Perceptions

In an era defined by digital advancements and growing consumer awareness, the current strategies for digital advertisements for the retail sector are receiving a lukewarm response. As per a recent study undertaken by Bango Audiences, approximately two-thirds (66%) of consumers report that the bulk of the digital advertisements they encounter do not align with their interests or needs. Consumers have started perceiving these advertisements as “excessive”, with almost 39% agreeing with this sentiment.

The study, which was based on data procured from 2000 consumers and 300 advertising professionals across the US and UK, reveals that this phenomenon isn’t an entirely unexpected development. Over half (57%) of adverting professionals working within the retail sector agree that the current method of broad demographic targeting, often quipped as the ‘spray and pray’ methodology, isn’t effective or productive for the brands they represent.

Uncovering Insights – The Consumer Perspective

In 2019, the New York Times headlined one of their articles with ‘The Advertising Industry Has a Problem: People Hate Ads’. Fast forwarding to four years later, Bango’s study indicates that the situation has barely improved.

When participants were asked to label online advertisements, ‘random’ and ‘intrusive’ were mentioned by 32% and 27% of consumers respectively. Additionally, 40% reported that they see irrelevant ads online on a daily basis. This persistent frequency of irrelevant ads results in a sense of ‘bombardment’, prompting approximately half (51%) of the consumers to unsubscribe from or block the brand from their digital sphere.

This unsuccessful ad targeting strategy is not only ineffective but also damaging to the reputation of brands. Almost half (49%) of the consumers reported that they had a negative outlook towards brands due to their digital advertising strategy.

The Advertiser Struggle

The widespread feeling of frustration isn’t limited to consumers alone. Advertising professionals working within the realm of digital advertising for retail brands share similar sentiments.

The landscape of digital advertising is dotted with significant challenges, including declining budgets and shifting industry standards, among others. These challenges have made the process of reaching the right audience online troublesome and difficult.

With tightened budgets (91% reported budget cuts in 2023) and a quarter (27%) experiencing drastic cuts of 30% or more, 81% of professionals are actively seeking innovative tools to target specific audiences online, with an aim to enhance campaign success. Furthermore, 67% stated that their organizations are actively searching for the ‘missing piece’ in the puzzle of ad targeting.

Potential Solutions – Emphasize on Quality, Not Quantity

While the put off due to poorly targeted online ads is evident, this does not indicate a negative trend for digital advertising in retail, per se.

Instead, 49% of consumers agreed that they appreciate advertisements that align with their interests. This feedback proposes a course correction. Brands must focus on the relevancy of their advertisements to the consumers. As many as 40% of consumers stated that they might develop loyalty towards brands that emphasize quality over quantity.

Indeed, the primary issue lies not with advertising in itself, but with the perception that the ads are irrelevant. The solution seems to lie in offering fewer, but more pertinent ads.

While the environment is challenging, it also presents opportunities for innovation and exploration of more effective ways to engage consumers. Retaining consumer interest requires trial and experimentation with new advertising methods and techniques.

Going beyond the ‘spray and pray’ methodology, Bango’s research suggests advertisers adopt ‘Purchase Behavior Targeting’; essentially leveraging real-time and verifiable data from billions of consumer transactions online to target advertisements effectively.

The full report titled ‘The Missing Piece’ can be found at for a comprehensive understanding of the current digital advertising landscape and potential solutions to improve its effectiveness.


  • Brent W. Peterson

    Who is Brent Peterson? Brent is a serial entrepreneur and marketing professional with a passion for running. He co-founded Wagento and has a new adventure called ContentBasis. Brent is the host of the podcast Talk Commerce. He has run 25 marathons and one Ironman race. Brent has been married for 29 years. He was born in Montana, and attended the University of Minnesota and Birmingham University without ever getting his degree.

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