A study by AdWeek and Harris Interactive provides some interesting stats on which medium ads are most ignored.

Medium of most ignored ads

At first glance its easy to assume that this means that internet banner ads are most ignored and television ads are the most effective. But the study fails to take into account several important factors.

1) Most people fail to recognize what is actually advertising online. When I teach clients and co-workers about search engine marketing, most people are surprised to learn that the sponsored links section at the top and right hand sidebar on search ads are paid ads. There are countless studies about visitors not realizing when they’re on a blog vs. a website. I’m sure a lot of people in this survey couldn’t accurately pick out all the ads on a website, but I’m sure they all recognize commercials on TV and radio.

2) ROI is king right now. Most people might say TV is an effective way to reach them, but who really watches a TV spot and immediately goes out to buy that item. On the advertiser side TV is an excellent reach medium but you can’t really measure and you can’t really target.

3) Mass reach and online ads serve different functions. TV and radio are to get the message out to everyone, if sales occur because of it, fantastic. But these days most people go online to find out more information and shop competitors. TV, radio and newspaper are step 1; online advertising is closer to the end of the funnel (even for offline channels).

I hate reports that just spew out numbers and stats without context.  You can read more here.

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