Most marketers have heard of banner blindness, when web users consciously or unconsciously ignore ads on a web page. It’s been discussed for several years and is a legitimate concern in the marketplace, but there is more to be concerned about when advertising online.
As attention spans shorten and the battle for mindshare intensifies across multiple screens and elsewhere, marketers who want to be successful should look at the big picture, they are not just competing with other online ads for success, there are other mediums in the market as well as the thoughts of the website visitor that can affect their success.
In a recent poll conducted by Adobe, they reported some interesting views of online marketing by US consumers and marketers which sheds some light on the situation. An article in Techcrunch about the study underlines the ongoing problem of online ads being ineffective at grabbing the attention of site visitors, and also points out additional thoughts of respondents such as over half of the respondents thinking online advertising is “creepy and stalks you” (who doesn’t like retargeting? C’mon) and that most “marketing is a bunch of BS”. “Annoying” and “distracting” were two frequently used words describing online ads. Below is a graph showing what effectively grabs the respondents attention and you can see in this study, online ads ranked very low.
While TV and print ads might be more effective at catching the attention of consumers, I think it’s probably fair to say that most online performance marketers would not say those mediums are more effective at eliciting a desired response from the ad. Catching attention and moving the viewer to act are two different things and the latter is key for online performance marketers. However, the study does bring up a valid point and reminds us that first, we have to capture the attention of the viewer before we can get them to act and any increase in effectiveness can positively affect the bottom line.
The study also highlighted some views on the effectiveness of online ads and what consumers and marketers think.
So what can marketers do to avoid being ignored and inefficient?
First, work on your ads and target properly. Proper targeting means the people who would be interested in what you are advertising will see the ads. Also look at your value proposition, is it up to par? Do your ads communicate it?
Next, while there may be a disconnect between what consumers think and what they do sometimes (I’m sure some of these people click distracting ads that got their attention), the information presented can be used to build a strong case for social and inbound marketing. Instead of what many see as interruption marketing with flashing banner ads and the like, many astute marketers have put their time and resources into building a platform that leads consumers down a path where they are happy to go and feel like they are invested in the process. It is an efficient way to advertise and and while it takes work upfront, it is a relatively efficient marketing method.
Regardless of how marketers approach their advertising, it’s always a good idea to walk a mile in their targets shoes. It can be challenging to think like their customer, but it can make a huge difference in the success of the marketing.