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Is it Time to Rethink the Banner Ad?

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that people don’t click on banner ads.

The average American web user sees more than 1,400 ads per month.  Clickthrough rates for standard banner advertising are less than 0.08% – meaning that every 1,000 ads served will generate less than one click.

Adding rich media doesn’t juice the rate very much, either:  all the way to 0.14%.

These sorry stats are mirrored in user surveys which find that more than half never click on ads – ever.

Concerns about “banner blindness” aren’t new.  The problem is one of relevancy.  Consider this:

  • Most people go online with a specific purpose in mind – and usually it isn’t to “browse” as one would a magazine.
  • The advertising “real estate” available on millions of websites adds up to an endless supply of space, delivering 1000+ ad impressions each month to each viewer.
  • Online ads are consigned to predictable places on the page – thus educating people where they should avert their gaze to avoid seeing them.
  • Delivering only a small amount of truly targeted advertising leaves the lion’s share to be sold at rock-bottom prices, consisting of offers that are totally irrelevant to the vast majority of viewers.

The key to success is changing the paradigm:

  • Target select publishers and ask them to create unique placements for ads to break the “blindness.”
  • Take a page from search marketing:  Target user intent at the moment when their interest is “right now” – not before or after.
  • Show ads only when the match between your offer and the buyer’s intent is high.


Contact Mullin/Ashley

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