Has all the controversy surrounding Facebook’s misuse of people’s personal data had an effect on the perception of social network advertising in general? A new study by Sprout Social suggests it might have.

According to the research, 27% of the 1,000 US-based consumers polled say their opinion of social ads has declined over the last 12 months.

Interestingly, though, the primary reason for this decline is not actually because of the data misuse scandal. It is, in fact, because consumers are simply seeing too many ads on social media. In other words, the ad load has become too overbearing. Recent events surrounding the misuse of data were cited by 39% of respondents.

But don’t think the writing is on the wall for social ads – far from it. All it means is that businesses need to get smarter and more creative with the ads they publish. The Sprout Social research found that entertaining ads enjoy the most success on social platforms.

Image credit: Sprout Social

In terms of the type of ads consumers respond best to, video tops the charts (83%), with GIFs at number two (58%, rising to 70% among millenials). Sprout Social says “Brands that go beyond stylized product shots and into content that inspires emotion in prospective customers will have more success being noticed and remembered”.

The other great piece of news for smaller businesses is that said ads do not need to feature or be endorsed by a celebrity or niche influencer. That’s because people are more interested in seeing ads from brands than from influencers.

Finally, consumers do not want to be able to buy products straight from an ad. Instead, they prefer the ‘Learn More’ call to action approach.

So the next time you’re thinking how to create and structure your social ad campaigns, remember to look over the Sprout Social research and understand what consumers want to see.