If you ask most people what kind of advertising they like to see, their initial response will probably be “nothing – I don’t want to see any.” No one likes ads or commercials. We all want to binge-watch free videos and stream free music forever. If we go to a local news site, we have to sit through a 15 second ad that we’re most likely muting.

Unfortunately, we’ve come to an age where the screen is essential in our day-to-day lives (more than half of us admit to being addicts), and we don’t always have the option to “skip this ad”. As we all know, digital marketing and content marketing have steadily increased, and social media marketing has rapidly soared to the top.

Since I can’t skip most commercials and ads (my guess is that this option will probably soon go away all together), can I at least see ads/commercials I like or prefer? I decided to launch a question to get an idea of what other people actually like to see in advertising content. Note that this is a checkbox question so respondents could pick more than one option. The question was:

What kind of advertisements/commercials do you like? (check all that apply)

  • Ones that include people
  • Ones that include animals
  • Ones that include animations/cartoons
  • Ones that are only characters/symbols
  • None of these

The question was answered by 2,015 people from June 2, 2016 to June 4, 2016. Results are weighted according to U.S. Census figures for gender and age, 18 and older. Insights were mined for each answer choice by comparing respondent profiles across a wide range of attributes. Let’s look at each of these answer choice segments. Significant differences were found among those who answered with regards to their entertainment habits, political beliefs, technology usage, and other categories.

People who like ads/commercials that include people

ads&commercials - people

The 19% of people who like ads/commercials with humans are more likely to:

  • Follow the MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball
  • Exercise regularly
  • Volunteer at least once a month
  • Buy environmentally friendly products
  • Own a tablet and subscribe to print newspapers
  • Be concerned about violence and crime in their community
  • Be religious

Perhaps an ad or commercial opportunity that includes people would be a good co-sponsored spot by a sports org.

People that like ads/commercials that include animals:

ads&commercials - animals

This was the most popular answer choice.

The 35% who like advert content with animals are more likely to:

  • Be females
  • Be registered republicans
  • Follow the MLB
  • Make decisions based on how they feel
  • Try new products before others
  • Prefer driving SUVs

Maybe the next time a car brand comes out with an updated SUV, they can highlight new product features and show women heading to a baseball game with their pet for “bring your dog to the park day.”

People who like ads/commercials that include animations/cartoons:

ads&commercials - animations

People in the 13% group who like ads/commercials with animations or cartoons are more likely to:

  • Closely follow the NBA
  • Go to the movies at least once a month
  • Eat fast food at least once a week
  • Play video games daily

People who answered “no”, 87%, are likely to:

  • Be married
  • Have children

An idea for a fast food chain might be a commercial of people playing a basketball video game and then heading out for a quick meal and a movie.

People that like ads/commercials that are only characters/symbols:

ads&commercials - characters and symbols

This was the least favorite answer choice.

Of the small 4% that said “yes” to liking characters/symbols, they are more likely to:

  • Seek creative solutions to problems
  • Have children
  • Own a home
  • Be married

Although there aren’t many responses, home improvement companies could use this data to create an ad/commercial on a family renovating their home focusing on using more characters and symbols over animals and animations.


Although this question was only launched for a short period of time, we were able to collect enough statistically sound data to say certain people do gravitate towards certain types of advertising.

Some general, high-level takeaways:

  • In general, adults prefer ads/commercials with either people, animals, or both
  • Women seem to gravitate toward content with animals
  • Animals overall get the highest vote
  • People that follow the NBA prefer content with people or animation/cartoons
  • People that are married and/or have children and/or own a home, prefer content with animations/cartoons and/or characters/symbols

A longer collection could help us find more results in areas like health and wellness, current events, brands, media consumption, food and beverage, lifestyle, personal finance, or technology usage.

Perhaps, if the demand is high, I will continue to research the original checkbox question as it might cross interestingly with other research we do around digital marketing content. Take that as a hint, clients and partners interested in engaging with us!


Just for fun, I pulled a question we ask at CivicScience about what kinds of commercials people like, and of course, people mostly prefer funny commercials.

ads&commercials - type

If companies want to create winning commercials that resonate with consumers, they may want to consider funny commercials with animals in them, or they will need do research on what their consumers find enjoyable to watch.