In consumer class actions involving claims of misleading or deceptive advertising, plaintiffs may allege that a company has presented benefits or omitted information about a product in advertisements. In these cases, complainants often claim that consumers relied on these false statements or omissions in deciding to purchase the product at issue.
One issue that is often overlooked in deceptive or deceptive advertising cases is the ability of consumers to avoid viewing disputed advertisements. Academics and marketers have long recognized that consumers, for many reasons, frequently engage in advertising avoidance.1
If consumers avoid advertisements in part or in whole, then it may be important to account for this avoidance in any assessment to determine whether the buying decisions of putative group members were influenced by the disputed advertisements. For example, experts can use survey data to assess which part of the target population has actually been exposed to certain problematic ads (and did not avoid them) and whether people who saw the disputed ads have made different buying decisions than those surveyed who viewed undisputed ads.
The prevalence of ad avoidance behavior suggests that conclusions drawn from research methods that ignore such behavior could lead to exaggerated estimates of the portion of the population exposed to disputed ads as well as estimates. biased from any impact of disputed ads on purchasing decisions. .
Traditional and online advertising
Much of the groundbreaking research on ad avoidance was done before the widespread use of the Internet.2 The avoidance behavior of advertisements on traditional media channels, such as television and radio, can take many different forms, including switching to another channel when an advertisement appears or reducing the volume or highlighting. muted advertising, or even mental zoning during advertising.3
As consumers spend more time online, new types of advertising have emerged which, at first glance, may seem less likely to be avoided. Examples of online advertising include paid search ads, social media, display ads, pop-ups, native ads embedded in original online content, and video ads.4
For many of them, traditional ad avoidance strategies no longer apply. For example, consumers who visit a website that contains display advertising may be reluctant to close their browser window completely to avoid an advertisement. Additionally, consumers may be less inclined to avoid because marketers are able to target online advertisements to specific consumers, which can make the advertisements more appealing to their targets.
However, some current research on consumer experiences indicates that ad avoidance is common in the online realm and may indeed play a bigger role for online ads than traditional advertising. In fact, consumers now have access to technology solutions or special offers that allow them to selectively or broadly avoid exposure to online advertisements.5 For example, a 2017 survey by Deloitte found that 30% of American adults use ad blocking software that restricts certain types of ads from showing on their computers, and just under 20% use software. similar to block ads on their smartphones.6 Likewise, although ad-supported music and video services such as YouTube include mandatory ad views, users can avoid the additional ads by clicking the âSkip Adâ button.
In 2020, every American household had on average access to more than ten devices connected to the Internet.7 In addition, according to a 2012 Google study, up to 90% of American consumers use multiple screens sequentially.8 Therefore, a popular method of avoiding online advertisements is to shift attention from one screen to another screen or device.
Another form of online ad avoidance is âbanner blindness,â the tendency of users to ignore elements of a web page that they correctly or incorrectly perceive as advertisements. Banner blindness is rampant, with studies showing that only 14% of internet users remember the last ad they saw, and only 8% remember the company or product that was promoted.9 Additionally, email services such as Gmail automatically filter or flag the content of ad-related emails, thereby allowing users to avoid seeing the ad-related emails.
Advertising avoidance can also occur in online entertainment services. In 2020, American adults had, on average, premium subscriptions to twelve entertainment services.ten Unlike ad-supported free music and video services, the premium (paid) versions reduce or completely eliminate ads.
On social media, users can exercise the controls available to limit exposure to advertisements they deem irrelevant, thereby avoiding advertisements. So, while consumers who use the internet to make purchases are exposed to an increasing number and variety of advertisements throughout their purchasing decision journey, they also have access to a broader set of consumer behaviors. avoidance.
Considerations for consumer class actions
Particularly relevant in the context of a class action lawsuit, advertising avoidance behavior can differ considerably from one consumer to another. For example, while consumers in general are increasingly shopping online, more tech-savvy consumers are likely to know better how to effectively leverage technology to avoid online ads than less tech-savvy consumers.
The results of the Deloitte survey show that 17 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds have avoided multiple types of advertising, compared to less than 5 percent of adults 45 and older.11 The survey also found that more educated users, those with higher incomes, and those who are currently working are more likely to avoid ads. Any analysis of the impact (if any) of disputed advertisements on purchasing decisions for deceptive or deceptive advertising may need to take into account these differences in the context of the relevant population of consumers for a given product. For some people, the avoidance behavior of online advertisements will affect the likelihood of being exposed to the alleged misleading advertising.
1 See, for example, Paul Speck and Michael Elliott, âPredictors of Advertising Avoidance in Print and Broadcast Mediaâ, Advertising newspaper 26, no. 3 (1997): 61-76 (“Speck and Elliott (1997)”); Marjolein Moorman et al., “The effects of participation in the program on commercial exposure and recall in a naturalistic setting”, Advertising newspaper 36, no. 1 (2007): 121-137.
2 See, for example, Speck and Michael Elliott (1997); Avery Abernathy, “Television Show: Programs for Commercials,” Current issues and advertising research 13, n. 1â2 (1991): 61â77.
3 Other ad avoidance behaviors for traditional media channels include: using recording devices, such as DVRs, which can filter advertising content; multitasking and paying attention to other tasks when advertisements appear; and physically leaving the room with the television or radio when an advertisement is broadcast.
4 SendPulse, âWhat is Internet Advertising? – Definition and tips, ” https://sendpulse.com/support/glossary/advertising.
5 See, for example, Chang-Hoan Cho and Hongsik J. Cheon, âWhy Do People Avoid Advertising on the Internet? ” Advertising newspaper 33, no. 4 (2004): 89-97; Josh Chasin, “How Big Is Ad Avoidance?” Â», Advertising Research Foundation, June 6, 2018, https://thearf.org/category/articles/how-big-is-ad-avoidance/; Walt Horstman, âAd Avoidance Isn’t New, It’s Only Evolving,â eMarketer, October 9, 2015. https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Ad-Avoidance-Isnt-NewmdashIts-Just-Evolving/1013084; Carlos Ferreira et al., âSocial media advertising: factors influencing consumer advertising avoidanceâ, Customer Behavior Log 16, no. 2 (2017): 183-201.
6 Deloitte, “Is there an #adlergic epidemic? Blocking of advertisements in all media â, 2017, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Images/infographics/technologymediatelecommunications/gx-deloitte-tmt-2018-adblocking-media-report.pdf.
7 Martin Kokholm, “New Study: Computer Decline Continues As Newer Devices Rise,” AudienceProject, March 26, 2020, https://www.audienceproject.com/blog/key-insights/new-study-the-decline-of-the-computer-continues-while-newer-devices-are-on-the-rise/.
8 Google / Ipsos / Sterling, “The New Multi-Screen World Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior”, 2012, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/multi-screen-world-infographic/.
9 Infolinks, “The Banner Blindness Infographic”, April 21, 2013 https://www.infolinks.com/blog/infographic/the-banner-blindness-infographic/.
ten The Statista 2021 study was conducted in the United States between December 2019 and January 2020. It included 2,103 respondents aged 18 and over. Subscriptions include pay TV, video / music streaming, video games, audiobooks, and digital magazines / newspapers.
11 Deloitte, âIs there an #adlergic epidemic? Blocking of advertisements in all media â, 2017, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Images/infographics/technologymediatelecommunications/gx-deloitte-tmt-2018-adblocking-media-report.pdf.