Online Ads: Benefit or 'Betrayal'?

Kevin Ryan has a good column today summarizing consumer research about awareness and attitudes toward online advertising. Are consumers interested in online ads as additional, relevant "content," or are they duped by them and confused about what is advertising and what is not?

In a very strange juxtaposition, Mediapost reported the results of two contradictory consumer surveys in the same week.

Consumer Reports' WebWatch apparently found that the discovery of ads in or around search engine results caused consumers to feel "betrayed," "angry" or "depressed." By contrast, the Online Publishers Association found that consumers responded positively to relevant advertising on content pages as "helpful" and "interesting."

How do you reconcile these findings?

  • Contextual advertising (okay) vs. search advertising (not okay) — consumer expectations are perhaps different in each case
  • Two different studies and methodologies produced very different results
  • Red states vs. Blue

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Here's more research aligned with the sketicism/betrayal side from Penn State, identified by Gary Price at Search Engine Watch.

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