Banner Blindness: When Web Users Subconsciously Ignore Ads

Chances are, you’ve never heard of “banner blindness.” It’s actually a form of selective attention, in which web visitors ignore information presented in banners. This can be either conscious or subconscious and is usually done to avoid interacting with ads that may disrupt the user experience. That might sound like a good thing, but it affects one group negatively: advertisers. That’s because when people ignore ads, the advertiser doesn’t earn any revenue or generate interest in the company. The first banner ad was introduced in 1994, and it garnered a 44% click-through rate. Today, web users are more likely to summit Mount Everest than to click on a banner ad. Even more deadly for advertisers today than banner blindness are ad-blocking programs. Online users are smarter than they’re given credit for, and when advertisers bombard them with non-stop banner ads, they leave them with no option but to bring out the big guns. The last laugh? Companies that engage in online warfare by creating anti ad-blocker programs are waging a war they can’t win. For every anti ad-blocker program that exists, there’s a script out there that allows web users to push on through to the content they’re after. There’s a middle ground somewhere, but neither side seems to want to go there.