What is Banner Blindness & Why Users Avoid Online Ads

What is Banner Blindness & Why Users Avoid Online Ads

What is Banner Blindness & Why Users Avoid Online Ads

Shortly after launching in 1994, banner and display ads took the internet by storm for their accessibility, widespread reach, and seemingly low start-up costs. But like with any storm, the fiercer and more persistent it becomes, the more people will duck and cover to avoid it. 

Digital marketing is fast, in your face, and makes it relatively easy to reach customers across the country without ever leaving your office (or post-pandemic home office).

But with so much advertising conducted online, marketers often forget the toll it takes on the average internet user. The sheer magnitude of online advertising content long ago reached the point of user indifference – regardless of ad relevancy. 

A computer mouse

Banner Blindness

The downside of easy widespread digital advertising is that users are now learning to ignore most – if not all – of the online ads they encounter. Closing pop-up ads without reading them, glazing over header ads, and even quickly skipping videos are all measures users take to avoid these ads. 

A form of this habitual avoidance is banner blindness. Banner blindness is a series of conscious (or subconscious) actions taken by users to avoid any and all online display and banner advertising during their internet session. 

This definition strictly refers to banner and display ads, but it is likely one of the more popular terms when discussing this advertising phenomenon. 

With nearly 86% of customers displaying some form of banner blindness, it is imperative that companies understand and reconsider their marketing strategy when targeting new customers. 

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Examples of Banner Blindness And Ad Avoidance

Can you remember the last banner ad you’ve seen? The correct answer is about three seconds ago (see above).  THAT is how effective our brains are at tuning out display and banner ads when we read content or browse online. And you’re not alone, the average click through rate for display ads is about 0.46%.

 Nielsen Norman Group, Banner Blindness Revisited: Users Dodge Ads on Mobile and Desktop (April 2018)

Take this heat map, for example. This study observed the eye tracking of several participants when browsing apartmenttherapy.com. Most users skipped over anything that was not actual page content. This pattern illustrates the evident problem with online ads – most users simply aren’t looking at them. 

But it is not only in-text display ads that users are avoiding. Users also often ignore:

  • Video Ads
  • Search Ads 
  • Pop up Ads 
  • Promotional Emails 
  • Social Media Ads

Relevant: Five Reasons Why Internet Users Block Digital Ads

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Online Marketing Statistics

When it comes to marketing campaigns — the more touchpoints the better. But with an increase of advertising being shown by thousands of companies every day, it’s proving extra challenging to reach the same people repeatedly.

In 1996, the average CTR for display ads hovered around 2%. As internet users trained themselves to ignore anything that so much as looks like an ad, that number has dwindled to 0.46% in 2022.

One InfoLinks study reports that only 14% of participants remembered the company or product of the last ad they saw online. The same study concluded that of those that remembered the ad, only 2.8% found it relevant to their interests (and 22% found them completely irrelevant to the point of annoyance). 

And with nearly 34.2% of the US users (ranging from age 16 – 64) using ad blockers in 2022, it is only a matter of time before more individuals use ad blocking to improve their online experience.

Relevant: Dissecting the Relevancy of Online & Direct Mail Marketing 

Why Are Users Ignoring Online Advertising?

While a company should still work to establish an online presence, there needs to be a focus on personalized content for the individual across all marketing channels.

A personal, unintrusive message that is relevant to their interests can be much more impactful when advertising a company. Unfortunately, the essential characteristics of many online ads make that goal unattainable for most campaigns for several reasons:

  • Intrusive Content

Any time an ad blocks, hides, or prevents a user from accessing their online content preemptively sours any potential relationship between prospect and company.

For a marketer, your goal is to build up brand recognition without causing animosity between potential customers.

But with so much online advertising content, it’s inevitable that consumers will grow tired of the constant barrage of in-your-face promotions. 

  • Lack of Trust

The overabundance of potential spam links within online ads and emails can discredit actual companies trying to reach their target audience.

A perfect online campaign can target a potential customer through banner ads or email; however, that company will never close a sale if customers are too hesitant to click on their links.  

  • Irrelevant Message

One Civic Science survey indicated that among the hundreds of online ads users see per day, nearly 68% are not at all relevant to their interests.

And while many online advertising platforms claim to track and understand customer behaviors, the truth is that irrelevant targeting is still quite commonplace. 

Understanding your audience on a fundamental level is the first step in building a relevant marketing campaign catered to their interest. Common online behaviors (such as falsified user-generated data) prevent companies from discovering their desired audience among the millions of users across the country.

Relevant: Has Online Advertising Influenced Our Attention Spans? 

Closing Thoughts

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While banner blindness is still on the rise, the gold standard of marketing – direct mail – stays as strong as ever.

And with the DK Solutions TargetList campaign, your business can reach hundreds of new customers every week with personalized, relevant content. 

Interested in starting your next campaign? Contact us today to begin your journey with direct mail, or visit our blog for a more in-depth look at how direct mail can work for your business. 

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