Aussies Avoid Advertising


According to Calder, Malthouse and Schaedel (2009), when engagement increases so does advertising effectiveness. But is this ringing true in Australia?

Even with our online obsession, Australians are avoiding online advertising in droves with large numbers taking steps to avoid ads altogether. Deloitte’s 2017 survey found 77% of Aussies will skip an ad before a video if given the choice.

Humans characteristically move towards things that give pleasure and avoid discomfort or negative stimuli. The Approach – Avoid theory can be associated with Australian online audiences as they are increasingly avoiding ads.  Therefore, can it be said they are finding them annoying, intrusive and boring resulting in a negative effect and creating avoidance behaviour, often what marketers refer to as “Affective Avoidance”.

So what will trigger greater engagement and stop avoidance?  Kelly, Kerr and Drennan suggest that there are key factors that influence successful engagement of ads: Attention grabbing material, relevance of brand, product or message, message authenticity, customer rewards, timing, social capital and self-brand congruency.

If we know what leads to success how can we as marketers break through this barrier and create engaging ads that result in positive feelings and interest. The answer lies in the content. To take full advantage, marketers in 2018 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed. Aussie will only choose to watch things that resonate with them deeply so making great creative content will be crucial.

In the digital environment, consumers have the power over the relationship, over the information, aggregation and participation. This ability to control their own choices creates self-liberation. With this “Consumer Empowerment” they can opt in or out of ads, brands or social channels so developing engaging content that tells a story and resonates with Aussies all the while entertaining them may be the answer for marketers.

YouTube’s new six-second ad format, for example, is providing a new canvas for agency creatives to tell provocative, compelling stories that catch people’s eye and earn their attention.

For years’ brands, have been telling stories to attract and retain customers. Stories act as a heuristic for decision making they create awareness, comprehension, empathy, pleasure and can lead to behavioural change. Stories are the ultimate building blocks for content which leads to greater consumer engagement.

So ultimately to break affective avoidance of advertising we need to engage our audience, empower them to be part of the story through creative technology. This approach will allow self-liberation of our consumers; we want our ads to be shared so that it heightens our target markets social capital. Is this too much to ask for?

Let’s reengage our Aussies through creating relevant, valuable and consistent content. As one scholar recently quoted:

“Capture life and imagination in a way that exceeds reports of the facts” (Czarniawska, 1997)




What’s your take on this? Let me know about it in the comments.




Calder, B., Malthouse, E., & Schaedel, U. (2009). An Experimental Study of the Relationship between Online Engagement and Advertising Effectiveness. Journal Of Interactive Marketing, 23(4), 321-331.

China & Rsquos Digital Video Ad Spending to Overtake TV by 2021 – eMarketer. (2017). Retrieved 17 September 2017, from

Czarniawska, B. (1997). Sensemaking in organizations. Scandinavian Journal Of Management, 13(1), 113-116.

Digital marketers: Are we worthy of being unblocked yet? – AdNews. (2017). Retrieved 30 September 2017, from

Hickman, A. (2016). Digital marketers: Are we worthy of being unblocked yet? – AdNews. Retrieved 26 April 2016, from

Kelly, L., Kerr, G., & Drennan, J. (2010). Avoidance of Advertising in Social Networking Sites. Journal Of Interactive Advertising, 10(2), 16-27.

Sharp, B., & Hartnett, N. (2016). Generalisability of advertising persuasion principles. European Journal Of Marketing, 50(1/2), 301-305.

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