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