Proof that banner ads don’t work

Written on 08 October, 2015 by Karen Lam
Categories: Marketing, Web Design & Content | Tags: advertising

How many banner ads have you clicked on today? Yesterday? In the past month? In the past year?

If you’re anything like the rest of us, the answer is probably zero. And if it’s higher, you most likely work in the digital marketing industry – or you clicked on the ad by mistake.

Display advertising – also known as banner advertising – has been a staple of digital marketing for several years now. However, many marketers question the effectiveness of banner ads to produce any kind of traffic to their website, let alone drive sales. In fact, the general consensus is that banner ads are annoying, distracting and just plain irrelevant.

The proof

Recent research conducted by Nielsen and native advertising company Sharethrough used neuroscience and eye-tracking technology to see how users process different online ads.

Users were given two mobile webpages to look at for 15 seconds: one with a native ad that matched the webpage’s content and style, and one with a display ad at the bottom of the page. The ads were placed in the exact same location and – lo and behold – users’ eyes completely skipped over the display ad, while the native ads showed users’ eyes tracking over it along with the website’s own content.

What’s more, while there aren’t many stats on Australians and banner ads, research from the US shows that 34% of users don’t trust banner ads and up to 50% of mobile banner ad clicks are, unfortunately, a complete accident. Even more amazingly, you are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.

Where should I be investing my advertising dollars instead?

In today’s society where digital is dominant, there are several alternatives that can not only offer more engaged audiences, but also drive sales for improved ROI. These include:

  • Native advertising: Native ads are currently undergoing a boom, and it’s not hard to see why. When users visit a news website or blog, they are there to read content, not see ads. If you can provide them with content that is relevant and well produced, users are generally quite receptive. Many publishers offer to work with businesses to ensure the sponsored content is relevant and will appeal to their readership.
  • Solus eDMs: Whether it’s sending a message to a partner’s database or investing in a custom email newsletter, solus eDMs are a great way to tap into an audience you’ve not had access to previously. If you’re not sure where to start, look for brands or businesses that are not in direct competition with you, but share the same values and target demographics.
  • Social media advertising: Although relatively new, social media advertising on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn is perfect for communicating with your current and potential clients, and building engagement.

Measuring effectiveness

Regardless of whether it’s native ads or sponsored posts on social media, it’s absolutely crucial to measure the success of your campaigns to find out what works in order to improve on it for next time.

If you’re looking to do native advertising on a publisher’s site, place a tracking code on all your links to ensure you can measure how many visitors and sales have been driven to your site from that ad. What’s more, many publishers offer detailed insights into time spent on site and click-throughs, so ensure you know what’s available to you before committing to any advertising spend.

Similarly, tools such as Facebook Ads Manager, Google Analytics and Kenshoo are perfect for tracking how people engage with your ads and how they behave before, during and after conversion.

Lastly, don’t forget to test multiple adverts and calls to action so you can see exactly what works.

Contact WebCentral to learn more about the best marketing options for your business.