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Despite being daily exposed to dozens of ads—including on television, in print, and on the Web—most Americans (55%) say they find advertising to be interesting ("very" or "somewhat"), though fully 41% say it is not interesting, a recent poll found.

Advertisers, however, should not get too excited: Only 8% of Americans say current ads are "very" interesting while 47% say they are "somewhat" interesting, according to (pdf) an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll of 2,521 adults surveyed online June 4-8, 2009.

How interesting are ads?

Younger adults and those with higher incomes are more likely to consider ads interesting. Two-thirds of adults age 18-34 (66%) and 60% of adults age 35-44 think the ads are interesting as do 62% of those Americans with a household income of $75,000 or more.

Conversely, over half of adults 55 and older (52%) say that current advertising is not interesting, as do 46% of those age 45-54 and those who have a household income between $35,000 and $74,999.

How influential are ads?

Regarding their most recent large purchase of a product or service, over half of Americans (54%) say advertisements they had seen or heard were not influential, with nearly half of that 54% saying ads were "not at all" influential; one-third of Americans (35%) say the ads they saw or heard were influential.

Younger adults are more likely than older adults to say ads are influential:

  • Six in ten adults age 45-54 (60%) and 55 and older (62%) say ads are not influential, with 31% of each age group saying they are not at all influential.
  • But just under half of adults age 18-34 (45%) say the ads they may have seen or heard are influential in making their last large purchase.

Television ads are considered most helpful

Over one-third of Americans (37%) say television ads are most helpful in making their purchase decision, 17% cite newspaper ads, and 14% say search-engine ads are most helpful, the Harris Poll found (pdf). Radio ads (3%) and Internet banner ads (1%) are considered the least helpful.

However, fully 28% of Americans say none of these types of advertisements are helpful to them in the purchase decision making process.

Half of people age 18-34 (50%) say television ads are most helpful, while three in ten (31%) of those age 55 and older say they find newspaper ads to be most helpful.

There is also a slight regional difference: Two in five Southerners (40%) say they find television ads most helpful, while only one-third (33%) of Midwesterners say the same.

Internet banner ads are ignored most

Almost half of Americans (46%) say they tend to ignore Internet banner ads. Much further down the list are search-engine ads (17% of people ignore), television ads (13%), radio ads (9%), and newspaper ads (6%).

One in ten Americans (9%) say they do not ignore any of these types of ads.

There are age and regional differences:

  • Half of those age 35-44 (50%) and 51% of Midwesterners say they ignore Internet banner ads, compared with 43% of 18-34-year-olds as well as Easterners and Southerners.
  • One in five Americans 18-34 years old (20%) say they ignore search-engine ads, while 20% of those age 55 and older say they ignore television ads.

About the findings: The AdweekMedia/The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States June 4-8, 2009 among 2,521 adults (age 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Harris Interactive is a provider of custom market research. AdweekMedia encompasses the publications, websites, digital products, and events produced by Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek. AdweekMedia is part of Nielsen Business Media, which is a unit of The Nielsen Company.

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