‘Banner Blindness’ Continues

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The latest eye-tracking study by ClickZ has found that internet users are still hesitant about viewing and clicking on banner ads. The study confirmed that less intrusive and plain banners are viewed more often. “They’re looking at them if they’re text,” says Nielsen Norman Group Director of Research Kara Pernice Coyne.

A possible reason for such behavior may lie in the bad experiences users have with banners that direct them to adware, spyware and other malicious sites.

Although the study dismissed banner ads, it did confirm the effectiveness of search advertising. “People do look at sponsored links on search pages and images on search pages,” said Pernice Coyne. “They really look for words that match what they are searching for. If you have a strange title to the page, people will skip over it.”

So what’s the bottom line? Text links work better than banner ads, especially if they are relevant to what users are looking for. The search advertising model is more effective simply because you always know (fine, most of the time) what the user is searching for and can finetune your ad copy accordingly. Can’t say this is something groundbreaking but judging by the ads out there, I’d say there is plenty of room for improvement.

P.S. On a personal note, I would like to thank Frances for the great job she has been doing with the blog, especially while I was on vacation. Without her contribution this blog would have been as boring as it was before she started to post here :)

About the Author

Andrey Milyan was the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard, the leading print publication covering the search marketing industry. He has been following and reporting on industry developments for over 10 years. Andrey now works in the paid search sector of a prominent search marketing agency.

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  1. Andrey, good post.

    What I'd add is that the only way to make your banners work more is to implement unique tactics. For example... "Page hijack" (Where you simply but the entire advertising page space and place your banners.) This would get attention.

    Other tactic is to surely use text ads ... but why not use unique font? Or let your text be in a different shape.

    Don't we all notice when things are not the way we are used to seeing? If you make your banner text be in a "angle like" shape, you have a better chance of being noticed.