Objections to online ads soared by 300 per cent in the past year, to more than 10,000, and the medium will soon overtake TV as the one hosting the greatest number of complained-about material.
Those are the main conclusions drawn by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK's watchdog of all forms of advertising.
It said that the steep rise in complaints about digital ads made up the biggest chunk of an overall total of cases referred to it of nearly 31,500 – itself a new record.
Internet advertising attracted 10,123 complaints in 2011, a massive 282 per cent up on the previous year, it said, while the number of ads which attracted complaints also hit a record, of nearly 9,300..
And this was at a time when complaints about TV ads dropped, by 20 per cent, The Guardian reported.
It noted that complaints had particularly spiked because for the first time, the figures included marketing messages, in the form of display and pay-per-click advertising, hosted on a third party website.
Almost 4,600 companies were forced to change or drop completely advertising campaigns which they ran online in 2011, the ASA found.
A big chunk of those was because complaints were made of misleading content – a problem highlighted earlier this year, when group deals website Groupon was forced to change the way it marketed its deals to customers, after a string of complaints.