6 Ways to Make Ads That Beat Banner Blindness, Part 1

March 6, 2014 Sofia André

This is part 1 of 2 in the series  6 Ways to Make Ads That Beat Banner Blindness.

You may have heard about a phenomenon called Banner Blindness, it was coined by Jan Panero Banway in 1997. He states that website visitors often ignore obvious surrounding display ads consciously or subconsciously, while reading website content. You may even recognize it yourself when visiting websites?

All advertisers are actually struggling with this problem and in this first part out of two, we will go through some statistics about banner blindness and advices on how we are going to beat it.
Bannerblindness.org and Infolinks summarize some interesting and useful stats from 2012 about banner blindness. For instance, an average American sees about 1,903 ads per month, but only finds 2.8% of them relevant.


banner blindness
Credits: Bannerblindness.org, The Banner Blindness Infographic

Studies about the banner blindness problem give us a lot of memorable knowledge about consumer behavior, but what we really want to know is how we are suppose to solve it.


How to beat banner blindness?

1. Standard ad placement

Banner Ad Placements

Credits: Infolinks, Infolinks Eye Tracking White Paper

According to the banner blindness problem, organic content will always be more visible than ads and therefore also more noticed by the users. Despite this, ads with the right placement can be just as visible as more marginal content and ads placed in traditional location. In Infolinks usability study, it turned at that as much as 156 % more saw the top area vs. the bottom area of a page. Also eye tracking maps shows that consumers tend to see more of the content at the top – which means the placement ”above the fold” is the one with the best visibility.

In the Food and Travel Magazine for example, this leaderboard and skyscraper ads are the most visible, and they are placed “above the fold”.

Credits: Food and Travel Magazine

2. The F-pattern

In Jakob Nielson’s study he also observed that the dominant reading pattern of the users was similar to the letter ”F”. People first horizontally read the upper part of the content section and then moved down the page to read another part in the same horizontal way. Lastly the user scanned the left side of the page.

Credits: Attitudedesign.co.uk

According to his study, it is favorable to follow this logic F pattern when placing banner ads and still keep them ”above the fold”.  Of course it is not unsuccessful to place your banner ad elsewhere on the page, but by placing it like this, your ability to reach the users will increase.

Alternative ad placement

The standard ad formats such as leaderboards and skyscraper that I mentioned earlier, are primarily what many online campaigns consist of. But as an advertiser you maybe want to be more sophisticated in your online campaigns, right? The market for innovative and alternative placements, is developing and is becoming more common. Here are some examples of alternative ad placements that can be worth trying.

3. Homepage skin

Credits: IMDb.com

IMDb.com often uses ads in their homepage skin, as above. The visitors trust and positive feelings to IMDb as a brand, is being transferred to the ad since the placement gives an impression of associations with the site. I suppose that advertisers want the visitors to be happy and entertained, and one of the keys for that are to create an expansive brand experience rather than a series of smaller distracting ones.

Look at this and think about it, don’t you like this one more than a page full of small ads?

4. Welcome pages

Credits: Forbes.com

When a visitor attempts to navigate to a site, they will be presented to a welcome page. Before the delivery of the welcome page, they can eventually be forwarded to a highlighted advertisement, as shown below.

Forbes.com usually have this whenever you try to navigate to their page. The ad is, together with the quote, one of only two pieces of content on the page. That makes the ad more likely to be seen than a standard ad alongside other website content. It’s almost impossible to miss, which means that the exposure must be high!


This was the first part of two about how to reduce and beat the banner blindness problem. I hope that it so far has been helpful so stay tuned for part number two!


Credits: Featured image for this post, Ad pushup blog

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