While global ad spend keeps growing — powered by Asia Pacific — audiences are proving harder to engage. After being targeted with the same types of irrelevant and intrusive ads, over and over, they are suffering from fatigue with some switching ads off entirely.

The issue goes beyond banners, which have gained a reputation as the key culprit for rising consumer frustration and fallen from grace in recent years. Digital ads aren’t delivering what audiences want, and that means they are struggling to boost ad impact and results. To break through, marketers must adopt new approaches focused on providing genuine value.

They need to take a look at ads from the audience perspective.

What’s behind the advertising tune out?

Consumers have lost patience with bad ads. The rise of digital has made it easier to reach audiences via multiple channels, but also led to an avalanche of ads that often prioritizes scale over relevance. In the APAC region, for instance, four in ten (47%) consumers use an ad blocker.

Mobile-specific irritation is also high. Accounting for a large chunk of media consumption — 24% worldwide — mobile has an even greater ad-blocking rate: 38% of users in APAC alone. And causes for this aversion mostly revolve around negative effect on usage; globally, 44% of ad block adopters are motivated by disruption. Clearly, the attempt to seize attention with interruptive formats, such as pop-ups and interstitials, is backfiring; especially on small screens. That’s not to mention use of generic messaging across devices, and audiences. And considering its vast share of digital ad budgets, such mobile discontent is a sizeable issue.

Delivering what consumers really want

There is a growing body of evidence to prove consumers hold experience above anything else: demanding authentic ‘human-like’ brand interaction and naming good experience as a major influence on loyalty. As a result, it’s essential for marketers to start increasing their focus on experience optimization.

Part of the process is considering how ads are received. The way ads reach audiences affects progression through the marketing funnel, so consistently aligning delivery with particular ad and channel preferences is vital. But perfect placement counts for little if ad creative misses the mark. Content is a core element of digital ad experience — in fact over 60% of consumers willingly engage with content marketing. To effectively capture audience imaginations, messages need to be much more than just ads; they must tell inspiring stories that instantly engage consumers at an individual level and seamlessly match their current context, without causing disruption. And although achieving this might sound like an impossible task, there is one format that presents a viable opportunity: native.

Harnessing the potential of native ads

Native isn’t a new ad phenomenon, but its true potential to bring marketers that are striving to connect with ad-weary audiences, is yet to be realized. For starters, there is inherent flexibility. Native ads are designed to automatically match their surroundings; meaning they can ensure real-time relevance by aligning with the content consumers have chosen to view.

Secondly, close integration with sites has the advantage of minimizing disruption; ads blend in with content instead of obscuring it, which makes them a good fit for any screen, mobile included. But in an age where everyone is competing for attention, it’s still important for marketers to keep their strategy creative if they want to realize the full potential of native ads, and maintain momentum throughout the path to purchase.

For example, video content can be used to engage consumers at the top of the marketing funnel where they are in the right mindset for discovery and more likely to interact with short, informative brand messages.

Alternatively, marketers can leverage preconceptions about native. Still frequently seen as a social media tool, its scope actually extends past newsfeeds and across the online publishing landscape. Exploring the largely untrodden path of wider sites can help marketers reconnect with individuals on the road to buying with more detailed content that uses current content consumption to reignite interest. And when it comes to tipping consumers from consideration to purchase, bespoke native messages featuring testimonials and case study snippets could seal the final deal.

To combat ad fatigue marketers must re-focus on quality over quantity, delivering ads that are powered by relevant, educational and engaging messaging, whatever the context. And that means they need to be native.