The Banner Blindness (dt. “Blindness to banner ads”) is an Internet phenomenon in which visitors to a Web site that placed there banners consciously or unconsciously ignore. The term was particularly coined by the 1998 work Banner Blindness: Web Searches Often Miss “Obvious” Links by Jan Panero Benway and David M. Lane. Alternative names for banner blindness are ad blindness or banner noise.
Banner blindness: where are the origins of banner advertising?
According to sciencedict, the first advertising banner went online in 1994. In the past, banner advertising was considered extremely lucrative and achieved click-through rates (CTR) of 44 percent – a value that advertisers are nowhere near. In fact, the most successful time for banner advertising was in the early days of the Internet, when a large number of users were still relatively inexperienced in using the World Wide Web. So it is not surprising that banner ads quickly became one of the most dominant advertising media of all.
How did the banner blindness phenomenon come about?
In their original form, advertising banners should be attractive to both the advertiser and the website owner. The user should react positively to the conspicuous advertisement and click. At first it worked – almost every second website visitor clicked on the advertising banner. Today this is only the case for 1 in 1000 users. In addition to the rapidly increasing overstimulation on the Internet, banner blindness in particular contributed significantly to this disastrous development.
Banner Blindness: Why are advertising banners increasingly being ignored by users?
Despite their negative image, we still encounter many advertising banners on the Internet today: on social media, in forums, on advice pages and many other platforms. They are often designed in bright colors and oversized font or equipped with changing sliders. In the meantime, however, users have become much more enlightened and associate relevant elements such as large images or eye-catching banners with advertising – in other words, content that they were not explicitly looking for. The result: advertising and information banners are largely ignored; the users thus develop a blindness for advertising banners (banner blindness). Instead, preference is given to clicking on text links – even if they lead to the same destination.
The banner blindness as an expression of a new form of internet usage
User behavior on the Internet has changed drastically over the past few years. Today the motto is: get to the desired destination as quickly and with as little effort as possible. (Advertising) banners do not lead there in the majority of cases. The logical consequence: They are simply hidden. This effect is reinforced by increasing caution on the Internet, triggered by banners that bombard the user with advertising, lead to fake competitions or infect the computer with malware. A circumstance that continues to fuel the bad reputation of banner advertising.
How do advertisers deal with banner blindness?
The banner blindness is not limited to advertising banners. In the majority of cases, the user decides completely unconsciously which elements are perceived and which are not. As a result, content that is not actually advertising is also hidden – mostly for the reason that it is designed unfavorably. Advertisers and web developers are now faced with the challenge of finding a solution to this problem. The first thing to do here is to avoid suspicious “eye-catchers”. The strategic placement of the content also plays an important role.
What is the possibility to bypass banner blindness?
Advertising banners have long been placed in the headers and side areas of websites. As a consequence, in addition to the banner blindness, the user has developed a kind of “tunnel vision” – the areas just mentioned receive significantly less attention than other positions. Therefore, whenever possible, the content that matters should be placed in the center of the page.
Another method of avoiding banner blindness and cleverly placing advertising is so-called native advertising. The advertising is so cleverly integrated into the context of the website that it is hardly perceived as such. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the advertising matches the rest of the content thematically. For example, advertising for pet food should only be placed on websites or in blogs or videos that really deal with pets, their keeping and care.