Online Ads Are More Then Just An Eyesore

Online ads to blame for drop in customer satisfaction, e-business report shows

Online Ads Are More Then Just An EyesoreCustomer satisfaction with online businesses has fallen to its lowest level since 2003, according to an e-business report issued Tuesday morning by the Ann Arbor-based American Customer Satisfaction Index.

According to the index’s E-Business Report — which includes web portals, search engines, social media, online news and information websites — customer satisfaction fell 3.9 points to 71.3 on a 100-point scale.

According to research conducted on behalf of the index by ForeSee, a data analytics firm in Ann Arbor, the proliferation of advertising was most blamed for the declining user experience.

Twenty-two percent of search engine visitors said ads were what they least liked about a site. Three out of five visitors to social media sites said they do not pay attention to ads on the site, and one in five said ads interfere with their experience.

e-business customer satisfaction scores

“Advertising may be the necessary evil of e-business,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee, in a news release. “Most e-businesses begin as a free service to gain traction with consumers and increase market share, but eventually they need to find a way to monetize their business. Unfortunately, consumers generally perceive the increase in advertising as detracting from their online experience.

“From 10,000 feet, the erosion of customer satisfaction with e-business suggests that the sector will have a bumpy road ahead. But the battle for customer preference is playing out at the customer level,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the index.

Google remains the most satisfying search engine, despite a six- point slide to 77. Bing slid six points and Yahoo three points and are tied for second at 76.

“The satisfaction scores make it appear to be a close race, but it is still only a battle for second when it comes to search engines,” said Freed. “Nearly half of Google visitors use the site for most of their searches, while no other search engine comes even close to that kind of loyalty.”

Despite widespread adoption, social media continues to provide one of the least satisfying experiences in the index. The category fell 1.4 points to 68, putting social media on par with subscription TV service and only rating better than internet service providers.

Wikipedia ranked at the top with a score of 78, with Pinterest at 72, with Google Plus and YouTube each at 71, Twitter at 65, and Facebook and LinkedIn at 62.

“The noise factor can detract from immersive experiences like Facebook and Twitter. Neither one is curated or edited, so users have to filter through ads, banter and irrelevant posts to find useful or entertaining threads or connections,” said Eric Feinberg, Foresee’s senior director of mobile, media and entertainment. “Wikipedia, as a managed site without advertising, doesn’t have that problem.”

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