Known commonly as advert blindness or ad blindness, banner blindness happens when people avoid or ignore banner ads. Coined in 1998 for website usability tests, banner blindness states that when people actually look at a banner, they tend to look past it. They usually feel annoyed by the webpage, distracted by other content on it, and do not respond to the banner ads.

This study says that around 80% of all consumers experience banner blindness. With digital marketing, ad spending reaching 300,000 million USD in 2021, the use of banner ads to monetize websites has been growing steadily. However, it fails to generate revenue for publishers or provide a significant ROI, and this is often due to banner blindness. 

When and Why Does Banner Blindness Happen

Source: Synerise

Banner blindness occurs when the user consciously or subconsciously skips or ignores banner ads or information laid out in a banner-like fashion. Usually, the effectiveness of a banner ad is calculated by determining its CTR or Click Through Rate. 

CTR =(Number of clicks/Number of ad impressions)X100. = % CTR

The term ‘Banner Blindness’ was coined by Benway and Lane in 1998 when they found that large, attention-grabbing, and brightly-colored banner ads were still failing to attract clicks from participants who were seeking specific information. Even embedded with helpful related information, banner ads would be ignored. Banners on the top of the webpage, further away from important links are more likely to be ignored than the banners located on the lower side of the page. When users browse websites, they are usually seeking something specific, tending to ignore everything irrelevant. This is the reason for banner blindness.

Thanks to banner blindness, revised users avoid ads on both desktop and mobile, so publishers would do well to avoid using banners that look like ads. Banners too can be placed randomly on a website. Displayed in fixed dimensions, given a fixed color, and a certain position on a web page, they can start becoming repetitive. There are several reasons for banner blindness. 

What causes Banner Blindness

One of the most prominent reasons is that visitors to a webpage are already on a mission, to find out the content they want. This is why they don’t particularly need a banner to tell them where to go. Another reason is the informational scent. People usually don’t read the entire banner, rather they tend to skim through it for relevant information. The third reason is that readers are usually distracted by some other elements on the page. There are several other reasons as well. Some of the most important ones are – 

Location 

The location of a banner makes a big difference because users sometimes skip the banner part of a page. They are usually seasoned web browsers who have visited scores of websites that display banner ads. Users assume all website layouts are the same and hence become banner-blind. 

Ad Clutter 

A cluttered web page, full of banner ads, pop-ups, texts, and external links often makes users lose focus. Excess ads cause a sensory overload, annoying visitors, who eventually learn to ignore these ads, concentrating solely on what they have visited the website for. 

Visual Style 

Ignoring ads is something users learn over time. They know how ads look and dodge them. Visitors know that typical ads look very different from the main website content. Whether it’s a banner ad or an inline ad, if the ad is of different font color, type, or has another background different from the host website, or has text embedded in the image, users classify these as useless ads, skipping them entirely. It doesn’t even matter if your ad is useful or not. It just won’t be seen.

Perceived Usefulness 

Displaying your ads to the wrong audience would be a waste because ads that are irrelevant will be classified as annoying and boring. User responsiveness is related to personalization. 

Ads Harm Other Elements Too 

Ads cause other elements of the page to be ignored too because they are placed on the same part of the screen as ads. These cause people to skip these, mistaking them for banner ads. Banners are quite problematic for advertisers. There are a few ways to avoid banner blindness and grab a user’s attention. Some of them are enumerated below. 

Stop Making Content Resemble Ads 

Ad content is quite different from the rest of the page. You should ensure the same, choosing the color, font, background, and overall style carefully, to ensure your content is distinct from the banner ads on the page. 

Testing Different Sizes and Locations 

Banner ads are located in 728×90 leaderboards, and 300×250 rectangles, placed on the right side of the content. These always do not work, and checking out unconventional locations and sizes to grab your visitor’s attention can get you a better Click Through Rate. 

An Eye-Catching Design 

A poorly-designed ad can be annoying, while a well-designed ad can help you. Ads must be simple in design, with elements placed from the most important to the least. This applies to the font as well. Try playing with font and element sizes, make some elements larger to highlight them.

A Good CTA 

The message of the ad matters. A question needs an answer. While writing your ad’s copy, ask yourself what you want to achieve with this ad. The CTA should clearly convey the message. A successful CTA should guide users, prompting them to take action. 

3 Dimensional Photo Ads 

3D ads are interactive, with objects like product images in the display area. Users can spin, move or even customize the product images in real-time. 3D banners convert more than flat banner ads.

Implement Native Ads 

Text ads in social feeds, graphic ads within mobile apps, or short video ads that play in the middle of TV series episodes, native ads are seen more than traditional banner ads, resulting in higher viewability – a must for successful ad campaigns. 

Follow the F Pattern 

According to web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen, page visitors often tend to scan websites in an F-shaped pattern, meaning they start scanning the page from the top left to the right. Keep this in mind, while placing your ads on a particular web page. 

Invest in Video Ads 

Net users find videos more engaging than texts. Invest in video ads, and don’t forget to run these on FB and YouTube, for wider engagement. Keep commercial videos under a minute. While you can use longer videos, they should have a strong storyline. Make sure the video quality is top-notch, before release. Read our blog on video ads to know more. 

Keep Testing 

To avoid banner blindness, always keep testing different versions of ads to see which works the best. USe A/B testing to see which ad receives high engagement if you want to battle banner blindness. 

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, while banner blindness might be quite a menace for advertisers, there are quite a few workaround methods. Users tend to ignore ads, finding them irksome and annoying. However, using the above tips might help you bag more customers via digital advertising. Remember, it is incessant advertising that caused banner blindness in the first place, so it would be prudent to put some best practices in the palace to avoid ad fatigue and the resultant banner blindness. Read our blog on striking the right balance between ads and user experience, to ensure a smooth browsing experience for your customers. 

Rayomand Engineer

I am a writer based out of Kolkata, West Bengal, and I like to write on tech, politics, travel, music, environment, and wildlife amongst others. I’ve also written scripts for branded content, and also scripts for short films. I’ve been writing for more than a decade and I love it.