Spending hours creating banner ads that almost everyone ignores can feel quite frustrating. Yet, we marketers keep doing it, and when views are low, click rates are lesser and conversions practically nonexistent, what do we do? We add a flashy message and switch the position of the ad as if the consumers missed it by accident.
Well, here is the sad truth: although the consumers are suffering from banner blindness, they very purposely ignored your work. So how can you make your work matter? Here are our best tips:
What is Banner Blindness?
The term banner blindness was first introduced in a study conducted by Benway and Lane. Although their study focused on banners used as a part of web page design, not advertisement, they found that the participants had problems noticing banners regardless of placement and despite their flashy “eye-catching” design.
Let us get one thing straight: Banner blindness is not a disease the consumers want cured, it is a coping mechanism against annoying advertisements. Some consumers have even turned to software like adblock because they are so fed up with all the ads. So the problem isn't them, it's us.
Does that mean it’s time to abandon the banner ads? Not really, we, as marketers, just have to change the way we design and use them.
Stop measuring success in clicks
The first step to improving your banner ads is to improve the way you measure success. Posting a funny, irrelevant ad on a popular web site may get you many clicks, but you can’t pay your bills with clicks. The same goes for views. Instead, you should measure conversions, both how many leads the banner acquires and how many of those become customers.
Tracking the whole process will give you a good basis for developing and optimizing your ads. Remember that, in regards to advertising, we focus on numbers and results, not feelings and opinions.
Relevancy, relevancy, relevancy
Keep the content relevant. According to Nitin Deshdeep “When web users scan or read through a web page, they only look at information which is relevant to them. They tune out everything else that doesn’t provide them with what they need.”
This shouldn’t be too difficult, marketers are working with segmented target groups after all, but the numbers indicate that we are cutting corners. A study conducted on banner blindness revealed that only 2,8 % of the participants found the ads to be relevant to them.
So wake up! Go through your target group with a fine-tooth comb: find out what content they like, what sites they visit, what topics interest them, and tailor your ads accordingly.
Down the annoyance factor of your ads
Please resist the urge to make your ads even more annoying, by adding pointless animation, sound (this is a BIG no), or all things flashy. Consumers have developed banner blindness because the ads were too demanding, drawing attention away from the content they are interested in.
Take it from Benway and Lane: “our studies don't show that users never see or use banners, just that they are less likely to see and use banners than they are to use simple text links.”
That is not to say that you can’t use animation or video. HBO, for example, does this beautifully, just keeps it relevant. Are you advertising a movie? Go with a video, no problem. Are you considering an animation jumping up and down to sell a handbag? It’s better to reconsider.
Don’t forget to include a clear call-to-action in your banner ads like “read more” or “sign up.”
The last thing to consider is the placement of your ad because the fact is: you can stick an ad right in front of someone’s face, but unless it is relevant, they won’t see it.
When buying ad space, you should consider the F-shaped reading pattern, which states that readers ignore any text on the right side of a web page. Additionally, you should go for space above the fold, or consider a more “native ad” approach with ads located directly in the text.
Have a look at our guide to learn more about creating great content for your target group: