Dear Retailers and Marketers,

Please take note of the following and realize that I’m not alone in these sentiments…

I hate your banner ads. Targeted, untargeted, personalized, timely, generic-it doesn’t matter. This is all garbage spam that I only click on by accident and immediately close the tab in the event that I do.

I hate your emails- daily, weekly and monthly newsletters; surveys, deals, offers; spam related to my past purchases or items in an abandoned shopping cart. Leave me alone. You are not winning my loyalty by deluging me with messages. Rather, you are actually making me regret having shopped on your site in the first place.

Related: when I click the link to unsubscribe, don’t make me verify my email address, uncheck a bunch of boxes, or do anything else. Just unsubscribe me, you know, like sites with a shred of decency do.

I hate your sponsored posts, tweets and other social media ads. The reason I use these sites is to interact with friends, not buy products. A note from Sarah W. in Miami about how she started making five figures a week while working from home doesn’t really do it for me. Also, trying to disguise the ads as regular content by embedding them in my timeline, or putting them right next to genuine content just makes your site worse. Stop trying to trick me, okay?

I hate your search engine results page ads and paid search results. Have you ever clicked these links? Whenever I do, I end up on a terrible site that doesn’t have the information or product I need. I guess that makes money for Google, Bing, etc. but I’m pretty sure that paid search advertisers have never received a dollar from me. Also, the number of ads on Google’s search engine results page is silly. From a real estate perspective, I’d estimate that half of my screen is ads and the other half is the actual results.

I hate your content marketing (AKA spam). Every time Google updates its algorithm, a bunch of people reverse-engineer it and figure out how to maximize their organic rank. Lately, the key seems to be generating a tremendous amount of keyword-laden drivel that no one in their right mind will ever read.

However, thanks to clever and misleading article titles, sites can get likes, shares and clicks from people who don’t make it past the opening paragraph. Thanks for clogging up the Internet with link-bait buzzword garbage and making it unnecessarily difficult to find legitimate content.

I really hate your pop-up ads that appear a few seconds after I visit a site. I start navigating the page, looking for content or an item and BAM, a big box appears in the middle of the page that I now have to close in order to continue. It’s especially obnoxious when the “close” icon is tiny and in a counterintuitive location within the ad. Sometimes the pop-up pushes the rest of the content on the page down, making me click on the wrong link.

Thanks, that’s very helpful. You have made me want to leave the site and never come back.

Even worse are the scroll-over videos that immediately take over the screen and start playing ads should I accidently move my cursor across their area of the page. Nothing beats the satisfaction of finding the link you’re looking for, going to click it, and then having a video start playing instead of the new page loading. Bonus points if you try to click again but unintentionally hit the just-loaded video box, resulting in a new tab popping up.

I hate your pre-roll video ads. I will never buy anything you are selling me. Instead, I will quickly try to see if there’s some way I can skip the ad, and if not, will settle for muting it and switching to another tab until the ad is over. Also, for some reason these ads always load quickly with no latency or pauses mid-stream, but then when the actual content I’m trying to watch or listen to is supposed to start, it loads in one-second increments. Do sites give priority to ad playback at the expense of the quality of their actual video content? It seems that way.

Here’s the point.

No matter the format, online advertising is awful. It is ineffective, obnoxious, irrelevant (even when attempts are made at personalization), at times combative, and it congests and uglies up the internet.

So… if you’re a retailer, why spend your money in this way? I genuinely believe that retailers should take every penny they spend on advertising and move it into product improvements, customer service, rewards programs, and other benefits for existing customers instead of trying to spam or trick new customers into visiting their site.

Simple idea. Like most people, I like certain brands and products. If those brands work really hard at making me as happy as possible, I will tell my friends. Zappos has incredible customer service. I know because people tell me, not because of advertising. Amazon Prime is a great value. I know because people tell me, not because Amazon tells me. Apple (still) makes great products. I know because… you get the idea.

Virtually all of the leading brands and companies today win because their products, service or both are awesome, not because they advertise like maniacs. They win because their awesomeness results in rabid support from customers who post about them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on. The reason for this is astoundingly obvious? People trust their friends, not ads.

I’m not blaming Facebook or other sites for putting ads all over the place- it’s not their fault for taking the money that retailers are tossing at them.

I blame retailers for being lazy and not doing the hard work and creative thinking required to make their products and service so exceptional that buying ads would just dilute and confuse the positive word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations their customers are already sharing.