The online Ad clutter – A threat to Digital marketing

Posted on Jan 17 2016 - 9:00am by Fayaz

The article is authored by Vaibhav Singh from SIBM Pune and is the second prize winner of article writing contest conducted by Marketing Bloggers

Did marketers ever envisioned reaching out to the fruit vendor in the remotest part of the country with the help of a wireless device. Well, that’s happening right now and its happening more rampantly than we imagine it to be. A conventional old timer approach for reaching the vendor would be to advertise on the Doordarshan which that typical segment of the crowd would watch or to reach out to him via a Vivid Bharti through the ever green Akashwani aka All India Radio. However, that’s not the only way this extensive communication is taking place. This new form of marketing is called as ‘The new age marketing’ which combines both online and offline platforms.
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While advertising using the offline platforms started as early as 1450’s, it was only around two hundred years later when the first newspaper ad offering a reward for finding 12 stolen horses was published. By the 17th century, classified ads were appearing frequently in English dailies. These were simple ads with product description and their price alongside. By late 19th century color and illustration started appearing in the advertisement. This was how the birth of advertisement on offline platforms started.  Since then, a lot has been written about the offline platforms covering all of its aspects; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

So, here let us shift our focus to a relatively newer platform which after coming into action in the 20th century revolutionized the entire industry. This form of marketing is known as ‘Online or Digital Marketing’


Simply put, any form of marketing done via one or the other form of electronic media is called Digital Marketing. Digital Marketing has seen huge growth in the recent times owing to its unique advantage and edge over the traditional form of communication. The primary one being that the traditional form does not offer instant feedback and report which its digital counterpart does. This helps marketers plan and allocate the resources well for the campaign and because it is digital, a reporting engine can be layered within a campaign allowing the organization see in real-time how that campaign is performing, such as what is being viewed, how often, how long, as well as other actions such as responses rates and purchases made.


Currently (as of 2015), ‘Digital Marketing’ isn’t an entirely new phenomenon for either small or big business owners. In fact, it has proved to be a game changer for the new or small business owners who can now fight their deep pocketed rivals with more or less on equal grounds as the online marketing starts dominating its offline counterpart. This low entry barrier cost advantage of digital marketing has seen rampant growth. In 2007 New York times published an article “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad”, which was mainly about the ubiquitous billboards and advertisement stamps; from names of CBS TV shows stamps on supermarket eggs to the motion sickness bags of the US airways. Today the same scenario can be seen in the online world, be it the huge real estate pop up advertisement on an entertainment website or the boosted advertisement links in the news feed of the social networks.

It is not a hidden fact that digital advertising is on the rise and a primary driver of digital advertising throughout will be because of rapid rise in mobile and video Internet advertising. As per Pwc’s global Entertainment and media outlook

(2015-2019) report, Mobile Internet advertising will surge at a 23.1% CAGR to 2019, overtaking display Internet advertising globally in 2018. The same report states that in 2017 the online advertising market will reach US$185.4 billion worldwide, which is a staggering 29% share of the total global advertising market.


However, the unbridled growth of Online marketing which was initially presumed to be a win-win situation for both the business owners and the consumers is soon turning out to be bitter for the latter. As this rampant growth of online advertising created another concern for the online media which was ‘The Online Advertisement Clutter’.



‘The Online Advertisement Clutter’ (Henceforth, referred as Ad clutter) can be defined as the overcrowding of a web page with advertising units to the point of degrading the web users’ experience. Not only does this affect the user experience but it also has a negative effect on the websites visits and popularity.Impact of Ad

The Burst survey found that for more than half the people (52.6%) there is low tolerance for more than two advertising units per web page. Around a quarter of the respondents (27.3%) say they will tolerate only a single advertisement per web page, and another quarter (25.3%) will tolerate just two ads per page.


Clutter has also proved to impact audience site experience and lead to site rejection. More than a quarter of respondents chose to immediately abandon the site if they find it to be ad cluttered. Women were more likely to abandon than men with 32% against 27% of the men.


However, the most resounding finding that were drawn from this survey was the negative impact Ad clutter had on the consumer’s perception of a promotor’s products and services. More than half of the respondents started having a negative opinion of the advertiser when their advertisement appeared on the webpage which they perceived as cluttered.



This leaves a big question for marketers on how to make the most of the digital platform without getting lost in the clutter world and get their brand faded.

Well, firstly as an advertiser it is prerogative to choose your media vehicles carefully. Cluttered media vehicle can adversely affect the brand and instead of boosting the advertisement it acts as a hidden cost affecting the effectiveness of the message. So to ensure maximum reach and positive brand perception carefully choose the partner who provide full transparency and ensure quality placements of ads.

Secondly, the message communicated should be clean, clear and direct. The last thing to get consumers attention is via a message which is long, complex and unclear. So, to ensure relevance in consumer’s mind target with exciting short communications which catches attention and stays in the recipient’s mind.

Thirdly, innovate the communication by targeting at individuals. Data analytics and big data are one of the main weapons of the digital platforms. Hence, digital marketing source can be customized to target only the desired TMS (Target Market Segment) by selectively targeting the channel/website, thus giving a relevant penetration to the company.

To conclude, Digital marketing is here to stay. However, Marketers needs to be smart and prompt in identifying the flip side of Ad clutter created as a result of low entry barriers to it. These challenges, if identified and overcome will help each business to differentiate itself by communicating its own narrative.

As put aptly by Seth Godin “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell!”

About the Author

Fayaz is the founder of Marketing Bloggers. Apart from the jibber-jabber he is Human by birth, Engineer by mistake, Marketer by Choice.. That says it all :)