Banner advertising is still increasingly popular, even though it has been on the market for at least 18 years – but is it really worth the effort? A typical user is served approx. 2000 banner ads a month! But guess what…only 8% of them actually click on the banner display! As eMarketer says, consumers aged 18-34 are very likely to ignore all your marketing efforts, do not click, or even read newspaper ads. Over half of the audience don’t click ads due to trust issues, and one third say that display ads are completely intolerable. During recent years, overall CTR has continuously been decreasing from 44% to 0.6% across all formats.

What is the problem with banner advertising?

Over 70% of people find them interruptive, over 55% say that they are annoying, almost the same percentage complain about ads slowing down their browsers, 46% find them irrelevant, and over one third of users are concerned about privacy issues with targeted ads (source: IAB UK/YOUGov “Online Ad Blocking).

On the top of the list above, most of us experience banner blindness on a conscious and unconscious level. We tend to skip information served in banner like formats, regardless of whether it is an actual ad.  According to a study by Infolinks, over 86% of consumers suffer from banner blindness. Also, a recent study by Nielsen based on heatmaps (neuromarketing tool to measure consumers’ attention) proved that our sight tends to avoid banner areas and focuses instead on the content below, even when we are only scanning the website. Banner blindness, according to researchers, is our natural defence against sensory overload from various sources constantly coming at us.

All 4 Comms - banner blindess

Surprisingly, we are naturally more focused on the text content, rather than pictures, videos and anything in the banner area. Seeing a banner is associated automatically with a terrible experience from the past after clicking on it. It is worth adding, that banner blindness also concerns social media users, including Facebook digital campaigns. Up to 20% of Facebook feed generates all sorts of emotional responses from the audience.

So, here are a few steps you can take to avoid banner blindness in your marketing campaign.

Placing ads in core content areas

The ads should be placed natively, embedded in the website content. This technique guarantees over 18% more traffic to your website with the intention to purchase advertised goods, and increases brand credibility. 70% of consumers will learn about the product through content, rather than ads. That is the reason why content is a king!

Native ads are also more willingly shared with family and friends than any other sort of advertising. Look at BuzzFeed for example. Their short movies are interesting, surprising and emotional, but an effective campaign with them does not come cheap. They charge over $90,000 per campaign. The effectiveness, however, is measured by generated traffic, social shares and time spent engaging with content.

Another tactic is to use infographics as an advertisement as they are still not associated with negative experience, yet proved to be effective with high CTR.

Testing non – traditional ad unit sizes and locations

Traditionally, advert sizes are 728 x 90 or 300 x 250 and they are displayed in the top right corner of the page or right sidebar. These positions are completely avoided by the readers. Over 156% more consumers also see the top of the content rather than bottom. But here is another surprise…

Maximum visibility can be actually achieved by placing ads at the bottom of the page, just above the fold! A pretty good location is just below the header on the right side or in line with header on the left side of the page. Of course, nesting the ads within your content might be the best tactic for your brand. Testing the best location for your ads through CTR will give you the answers you may be looking for.

Relatively popular are pop – up ads which are nested within the welcome to the page message. They are usually displayed once a day to a user. Although they seem to be annoying, they usually increase engagement. But you have to be very creative when preparing a pop-up ad, they shouldn’t look like ads but either give the consumer some sort of informational value, or look like a warm welcoming to your site. For reference, look at Forbes, for example.

All 4 Comms - banner blindess, Forbes, newsletter, Agata Elandt

As user experience is crucial for any website, avoid placing too many ads on your site. The more ads you place, the greater banner blindness your audience will develop. As a brand owner, make sure that the website you want to advertise on is relevant for your products and doesn’t have too many ads. Uniqueness and matching your brand to a suitable environment is more important than number of viewers.

Creating great website or advert

Visually appealing adverts always attract attention. Thinking outside the box is the best strategy. The adverts should be simple, not overcrowded, relevant and balanced. Placing too many colours, fonts and elements can result in triggering banner blindness. The most effective seem to be adverts with unique selling points, short description with supporting imagery and relevant CTA (Call To Action).

All 4 Comms - CTA button, subscribe, you tube campaign

White space counts as much as the images! But as much as white space between the lines is important, the logical grouping of words is as well.

Using contrasts is a very useful technique. If your site is light in colour, ads should be dark. It also applies to the typography to direct people exactly where you want them to go, to show them what you want them to see. Using two types of font which are completely different might do the trick. CTA should stand out; therefore, most marketers use red coloured buttons.

Using human faces in your ads

They are more likely to be noticed. The more emotional the image is, the better results you should achieve. Some experts say that the face should be directed at users, showing consumers’ happiness, while others advise to direct the eyes at the product, suggesting better interaction on your ad.


Interactive, creative ads

Some elements of gamification, clicking ads for a response or getting another type of interaction, usually engages consumers much more than any other type of display ad. You can use a simple message to direct users to your website, and then use some kind of game board with various elements to click on. Look at this Ikea advert: for example, or this Cadbury campaign:

Remarketing campaigns

Many users don’t finish their purchase, or visit a website and don’t buy the product. To drive them back to the website, all sorts of remarketing campaigns might be used to invite them back and to finish the purchase.

The probability of gaining a new client is approx. 5 times lower than converting a prospect into a client from a remarketing campaign. It is simple. They already know us; we don’t have to go through the process of introducing the product, gaining credibility, explaining the story behind the brand. If they like the product; are enticed with special treatment such as a personalised discount; receive additional benefits like extended guarantees; offered extra service that is specifically useful to them, or credibility gained by testimonials from other happy customers, then they are more likely to return.

To use a remarketing campaign, you should focus on obtaining the relevant data from Google stats, for example, or by using Facebook pixel.

These will show you where your prospects are, what they do, and which step of the process they skipped. Installing Facebook pixel on your website gives you the opportunity to segment your audience into relevant groups with different needs. These kinds of well segmented ads are more likely to be noticed. It significantly lowers the cost of any marketing campaign.

However, remarketing should be tailored accordingly and attract your potential client with compelling images, creative copy, dynamic CTA. The offer should be appealing to them, for example 10 or 20% off for a particular product they were interested in.


If you are interested in effective remarketing campaigns, do not hesitate to contact us.

Video advertising

This is an increasingly popular form of display ads. They are much more difficult to produce but are usually much more effective. We are exposed to approx. 32 video ads a month. The field is not overcrowded yet. They have proved to be more engaging, with higher CTR. Over 41% of marketers (research based on 120 agencies), found that video marketing is as effective as TV adverts, and 31% – that online is more effective than TV.

Video has been proved to be the best tool to make consumers understand your product and make your brand more memorable. Over 80% of consumers agree that video marketing makes them remember the brand and 46% of users usually take action.

Video marketing is effective even in the most distracted environment. It is easy to watch even when you are busy with different activities such as lunch or the gym. The campaign can be performed on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook. YT and FB have great targeting options by gender, location, interest and behaviours, which you can use for segmenting your audience.

 Margaret A. Szwed

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