Subscribe to Our Newsletter.

Brands are wasting budget on ‘annoying’ ads that do more harm than good, new YouGov survey finds

Press release: for immediate release

Nov 15, 2023

YouGov/Picnic UX survey shows 70% of people find digital adverts annoying - and that bad user experience is doing real damage to brands

London, UK, 15th November 2023: More than two-thirds of people (70%) find digital advertising annoying and unpleasant, while 72% say that bad advertising experiences have negatively affected their perception of a brand, according to new research that lays bare the real damage caused by excessive and intrusive ads.


The survey, from user-first media platform Picnic, in partnership with global public opinion company YouGov, shines a light on attitudes towards user experience of advertising on the ad-funded web - and reveals that poor advertising experiences not only achieve diminishing returns, but actively turn consumers off infringing brands.


71% of people agree that annoying or intrusive ad experiences make them less likely to purchase from that brand in future, while 86% say that too many ads on a webpage make them feel overwhelmed and more likely to ignore the advertising altogether. Survey respondents identified ‘too many ads’ as the number one most annoying UX issue, followed by blocked screen content, accidental clicks, slow load speeds, and unstable page content, in that order.


For users who chose to comment on ad experience issues, there was a resoundingly negative attitude towards digital ads in their current form, with all answers expressing negative sentiment. Comments included ‘all advertising is annoying’ and ‘[ads are] annoying full stop’. Some users also confirmed they use ad blockers to avoid UX issues.

Hope for the ad-funded web


Despite these negative attitudes, respondents are still fundamentally in favour of an ad-funded web. The majority of respondents (56%) agree that they enjoy reading free content from reputable publishers, and over a third of people (39%) say they like discovering new products and brands on the open web. Importantly, 71% of participants also said they’d be more likely to feel positively towards ads if they were fast-loading, and didn’t force clicks or block content.  


Commenting on the survey, Matthew Goldhill, Founder & CEO, Picnic, says: “If brands and media planners can shift their approach towards prioritising ad solutions that resolve user experience issues on the web, we as an industry can drastically reduce the amount of ineffective, wasted and even damaging ad spend. This would not only be better for the environment, but would also help to drive more meaningful engagement and returns for brands.”

Sean Golding, Digital Development Director, AKA UK, agrees: “Minimising wasted ad spend is a top priority in terms of efficiency and brand safety. To prevent waste and increase engagement, we need to find ad solutions that deliver a positive user experience on trusted, high-quality publishers.”


Golding continues: “It’s a win-win for all. Advertisers will see improved campaign performance, and publishers will benefit from delivering ads that do not ruin their on-page content - keeping their readers engaged and coming back for more.”

Key highlights from the survey:


  • 70% of people find digital ads annoying and unpleasant
  • 72% agree that annoying or intrusive ad experiences have negatively affected their perception of a brand
  • 66% say annoying or intrusive ad experiences reduce their trust in the brand advertising
  • 71% agree that annoying or intrusive ad experiences make them less likely to purchase from that brand in future
  • 86% of people agree that too many ads on a webpage makes them feel overwhelmed and more likely to ignore the adverts
  • 71% of people agree they’d have a more positive perspective of digital ads if they loaded quickly and didn’t force clicks or block content




Editor’s note: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 16th October 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


Press Contact

Maryum Sheikh, Press Lead, The Digital Voice


About Picnic

Picnic is the user-first media platform on a mission to create a digital landscape that generates outstanding brand outcomes while respecting the experience and values of users. With a focus on quality and creativity, Picnic fuses data science, human intelligence and AI, to curate the most user-friendly and sustainable inventory possible. Combined with impactful yet non-disruptive ad formats, Picnic empowers brands to reach and engage with highly receptive audiences. For more information, go to


About YouGov

YouGov is an international online research data and analytics technology group. Its mission is to offer unparalleled insight into what the world thinks. Its innovative solutions help the world's most recognised brands, media owners and agencies to plan, activate and track their marketing activities better. With operations in the UK, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, India and Asia Pacific, it has one of the world's largest research networks. At the core of its platform is an ever-growing source of consumer data that has been amassed over our twenty years of operation. For more information, visit