Clients urged to get creative to cure ‘banner blindness’

digital_nAdvertisers are wasting billions of pounds each year on banner advertising by failing to make ads stand out from the crowd, leading users to consciously or unconsciously filter out online activity.

So says a new study by digital specialist Bannerman, which claims that almost nine out of 10 people (86%) suffer from “banner blindness”, potentially meaning of the £6.5bn spent on digital display advertising each year, £5.6bn of it goes unseen.

The company claims banner blindness occurs because consumers generally deem banner ads as invaluable distractions and tend to avoid attention to the ads when they interact with web pages or quickly forget the banners after viewing them.

Experiments by The Bannermen to further understand the phenomenon reveal that this is particularly true if a banner ad looks formulaic. The user’s brain actually filters it out from its viewing experience, with only innovative, non-formulaic banners having the ability to break through.

The study suggests that advertisers can override banner blindness by manipulating a banner’s page congruity (the degree to which the banner matches the website) and/or its visual salience (the degree to which the banner stands out and captures the viewer’s attention)

Darker backgrounds with lighter text stand out on most information and news websites, but the light backgrounds and darker text is more effective for gaming and entertainment websites.

Meanwhile, vertical and perpendicular lines standout on websites with left to right text. On websites that read horizontally the inverse is true, and animated banners of any kind stand out against mostly static webpages.

Bannermen CEO Danielle Demkiw said: “It is important to know that banner blindness is not just a function of context, but also one of memory. For instance, a dark background and non-horizontal lines might help the creative standout against the website, but to combat the impact of banner blindness your banners need to standout against other banner creatives.

“Therefore, when designing banners it is critical to use layout and animation in new and unique ways. Basically, you need to create banners that don’t look like banners.”

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