Banner blindness is a web browsing phenomenon that results in visitors consciously or unconsciously overlooking or skip banner-like assets. When browsing users are often in search mode and may ignore anything irrelevant to their task. Further, usability expert Jakob Nielsen found evidence that people tune out noise to avoid information overload. Visitors also use cognitive schema to focus attention on promising areas where they expect to find the information they are looking for.
Eye tracking research has repeatedly shown that users won’t focus attention on anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it is an advert. However, ads that are designed to match the surrounding content are more likely to be viewed as visitors may perceive they are relevant to the content they are browsing. Common strategies for avoiding banner blindness are:
- Use native ads that are embedded in content and avoid the normal locations associated with banner ads.
- Use directional cues such arrows or human faces to draw attention to the add.
- Try non-standard ad unit size and locations. This approach seeks to avoid the predictability of many ads and their locations which often leads to banner blindness.
- Create interactive ads that use rich media that encourage engagement and social sharing.
- Ensure good contrast with the rest of the page to help the ad is prominent enough to be noticed.
- Have a single and prominent call-to-action on the advert to encourage users to take action if and when they see your ad.
Banners are an important source of revenues for many sites, but care needs to be taken with their design and placement to avoid banner blindness and being too intrusive. Consider the pros and cons of banners before placing them on your site. Banners will take visitors away from your site and so they can conflict with your own conversion goals. When you do need to have banners on a page try native ads embedded in relevant content.
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