How to Reduce Banner Blindness for Better Ad Conversions


Do you ever go to an event and have difficulty finding the restrooms? You ask someone who works there, and they point you in the right direction with a sigh, as if to say, “Duh, they’re right there.” Then, of course, you feel kind of foolish.

But here’s the truth: You’re not foolish; you’re just overstimulated. There’s so much to look at that you don’t even notice the signs right in front of you.

Okay, so what does that have to do with digital marketing?

Well, the first banner ad ever created was in 1994, and it got a whopping 44% click-through rate. Wouldn’t we all dream of results like that? Unfortunately, though, the average click-through rate on banner ads these days is just 0.5%.

This is due to banner blindness, the very real phenomenon of not noticing ads because we are so used to them and/or because we choose to ignore them.

Why Banner Blindness Exists

It’s impossible for us to pay attention to every ad that crosses our paths. If we did, we would get nothing done, we would be completely overstimulated, and we would probably go insane.

Eye-tracking studies indicate that we tend to ignore the top, bottom, and right side of websites, as those are the areas where banners are usually displayed. And, most of us internet users probably close out pop-up ads before we even read them.

Somehow, though, banner ads are still an effective method of advertising, and if done right, they can yield exceptional results.

9 Pro Tips for Overcoming Banner Blindness

As a marketer, you certainly can’t avoid banner blindness, but there are several things you can do to help your ads get noticed.

Let’s look at how the pros do that now…

1) Choose a Unique Position

Banner blindness occurs because people are used to seeing something that is predictable; therefore, they know how to avoid it, whether intentionally or not. So, to avoid banner blindness, you have to do things they aren’t expecting.

Try different positions for ad placements.

Though it has been shown that people tend to view web pages in an F-Pattern, and sometimes in an X or Z-Pattern, that will get worn out when everyone places their ads in those positions. So, take a risk and try out some other positions. And, when an ad position that was working well stops getting good results, try a new position.

Try ads in completely unique places.

Most people expect ads to be placed on home pages, in articles, and on other high-profile pages. So, do something different and place them on welcome pages, thank-you pages, or any other nontraditional place that comes to mind.

2) Try Not Standing Out

This one sounds counterproductive, but sometimes the best way to avoid banner blindness is to stop hitting your viewers with typical ads. This is known as native advertising, and it’s when you advertise within content and make it look like part of the content.

The ad doesn’t stand out like an ad and disrupt the attention of the viewer. Instead, it is cohesive and flows with the content the viewer is already engaging with.

You can do this with Facebook ads that don’t have a call-to-action button. You can also include an ad right within the content, either as a call-to-action graphic that matches the look and feel of the content or as text within the content.

3) Master Color & Contrast

When an ad lacks contrast, it is easy for it to get lost in the mix and fall prey to banner blindness. When it has contrast, it will draw the viewer in, and color is the basis of contrast.

Color plays an important role in avoiding banner blindness because it has such an impact on our emotions. The right color combinations attract the eye; some make us ignore an ad, and others turn us off completely.

The best color combinations for attractive ads are colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel because they create a pleasing contrast and make important elements of the ad stand out. And if you can also use your ad’s colors to complement and contrast the color theme of the website, that’s true mastery.

Need a refresher from your elementary school art class?

Here are the complementary colors:

4) Be a Little Creepy

A retargeting ad is an ad that essentially follows people around. If they came to your website and showed some interest in something on your website, you can retarget them and show them ads when they visit other websites.

Some people may find it creepy, but it’s also highly effective. Retargeting ads have been shown to have a 147% increase in conversions. This is because people aren’t so blind to the things they are interested in.

5) Be Relevant

When we have so many things to look at and filter out like we do when we are searching the web, it is only natural to filter out what is irrelevant. If it doesn’t pertain to what we are looking for at that moment, we just pretend it isn’t even there.

When your ad is completely relevant to what the reader is searching for, and when that relevance is projected clearly in the ad, it will get noticed.

Here are some ways you can do that:

6) Tap into Emotions

Don’t just write an ad that talks about how great your product, service, or company is. Instead, your ad copy should speak to what you can do for your viewers. It should speak to their emotions and compel them to act because you offer the solution they need.

In your ad copy, talk about benefits, not features. Tell a story, and help your viewers see themselves in that story. And write headlines that catch their attention because it matches how they feel.

Take a serious look at who your ideal customer is, demographics and all, then think of them as a friend. What would they tell you they want. Shannon quote

7) Realize Mobile Is Where It’s At

It is estimated that by 2025, 75% of the world will use only smartphones to access the internet. So, if you aren’t optimizing your ads for mobile, you’re simply not facing reality.

Make sure your ads look just as good on mobile as they do on desktop. Choose your ad placement carefully because your ad can easily get lost when it is in the middle of too many ads on a smaller screen.

8) Get It on Video

It’s no secret that people love video, so we aren’t going to give you the statistics of why video is effective. But, we do want to point out that video can also be an effective advertising tactic, especially when it comes to reducing banner blindness.

With video, you can tell a better story than you can with an ad graphic. Videos are more engaging, and people find themselves being drawn into them, making them harder to ignore. If your product or service needs a little more detail to point out how great it is, you should be trying out some video ads.

9) Don’t Make People Sick of You

When we are running ads on Facebook or another platform, we can run into ad fatigue issues if the same people are seeing our ads over and over again. Obviously, that would lead to banner blindness.

To avoid this, you can increase your targeting audience, or you can alternate various versions of your ad so that the frequency of your ad is reduced.

In Conclusion

Bottom line: You can’t eliminate banner blindness completely. It’s a very real thing, and it’s not going anywhere. But the marketers who have the best conversions with their ads are the ones who figure out how to reduce it.

The best way to beat banner blindness is to be on the cutting edge of marketing and get in on what’s working early before too many people are doing it. At Viral Solutions, we specialize in giving you the information and services that can help you do that.

Contact us today so we can help you stay ahead of your competition.


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Filed Under: Tools & Technology

About Lindsey Perron

As Thomas’ daughter, Lindsey was introduced to the world of sales and marketing at an early age. Curious about what her dad did, Lindsey would jump at every opportunity to help and ride along on sales calls. Always quick to take charge and lead the group—a trait that has only grown with time—Lindsey was frequently told by her parents that she was destined to be a manager or CEO of some sort. While working toward earning her bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Lindsey interned with the UW Office of Equality and Affirmative Action and served on several councils, which gave her the opportunity to develop her persuasive writing skills, researching skills, problem-solving skills, project management skills, and more. After working as the lead teacher of the 4-year-old room at the local daycare center, Lindsey decided to switch gears and join the Viral Solutions team. In her position, Lindsey is able to help clients think through an end goal and reverse engineer it into the steps needed to achieve it.

When she’s not working, Lindsey loves spending time with family, be it traveling somewhere together or just hanging out at home.