Banner Blindness - the disease infecting your display campaigns

“Banner Blindness” was coined way back in the 90s and for most marketers its symptoms include embarrassing click through rates, a meagre return on investment and unsatisfied clients.

In 1996, around the birth of display ads, CTR were at 2%, today they have plummeted to 0.1 % leaving the majority of the industry shell-shocked.

86% of consumers have trained themselves to ‘tune out” of ad content. With search and display ads expenditure in Australia reaching 527.4 million in 2013, there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears going into display campaigns that produce a 99.9% failure rate.  The largest study of its kind by Infolink found the primary causes are ad tone, irrelevance, predictable placement and a poor user experience

Fortunately there are ways to pull your ads out from the overcrowded generic pile that litter the display network.

  • The nitty-gritty – do everything to enhance your quality score, use the wealth of intelligence online and learn from everyone else’s oversights. Regardless of your objective, this will lower your CPC and provide a better ROI.
  • Relevance matters – An ad for lesser known brand but relevant to the content of the site was recalled by 82% more people than a well-known ad with no relevance.  Delve into your reports and remove poor performing domains, adding lists of domains you want to target.
  • Respect a user’s intent - 66% of users felt that the ads that were contextually targeted to the user’s real time interests found them helpful and were more likely to interact *. Explore remarketing and dynamic advertising.
  • Don’t be Intrusive – Ads that automatically play a video, music or make the exit route as hard as possible destroy a pleasant user experience and potentially your brand. Inspire a conscious click through rather than an unsolicited cost to your AdWords budget, aiding users who actually want to learn more.
  • Location, Location, Location- ‘Above the fold’ advertisements are prime real estate in terms of visibility but if you lack deep pockets, try unconventional ad placements. They were found to be less intrusive and more engaging.  You could also try going native?
  • Native Advertisements –perceived as more organic and growing in popularity. You will have seen native ads as ”Sponsored Stories” on Facebook or “Promoted Videos” on YouTube that mimic the aesthetic of your news feed. Web users are savvy and hardwired to ignore standard banner ads regardless of how flashy you make them. This breaks the mould and could potentially reignite your display campaigns. 

The bottom line: Ads that are displayed in non-traditional locations and that target the real-time intent of users outperformed standard banners across the board, indicating that creating an ad experience based entirely on the user, rather than the advertiser, is the most effective approach to improving engagement rates*.


Infolink Banner Blindness Whitepaper*

We’ve been working with Pepper Marketing since March 2012. Since then Catherine, Anthony and their team play a key role within our organisation’s marketing activities.

Over this period we’ve been accustomed to nothing but professionalism, responsiveness and attentiveness to all of our dealings, however small or large.This includes annual strategy planning and key vendor management through to events, online and print campaigns preparation through to execution.

We highly recommend Pepper Marketing to anyone who is considering partnering with experienced marketing services organisation.


Max Soukhomlinov
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