TBM BLOG

Breakthrough Banner Blindness

You’ve heard it. We’ve heard it—always in hushed, solemn tones. The weighty phrase that strikes fear into the heart of every digital display manager: banner blindness. Before you panic, DON’T! We have a very digestible explanation of just what banner blindness is, what causes it, and how you can beat it. Trust us, banners are our life! When it comes to making traffic-stopping banners and other digital assets, we’ve done the research. Follow our tips and you’ll understand how to create scintillating digital assets that breakthrough banner blindness and bolster your bottom line!

 

What is Banner Blindness?

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. Banner blindness is a term that was coined in web usability tests to describe the way users would subconsciously or consciously filter out the information presented to them in addition to, or between, what they were initially looking for.  Here’s the most important thing about this fact—the researchers who coined this term, Benway and Lane, did so in 1998. That’s over 20 years ago. Two decades ago.

To put it into further perspective, 1998 was the year the Euro came into circulation and when Google was founded (it was also the year of the first Britney Spears single but alas, we digress). This is why, when people brazenly throw around such a term, we have one very important thing to ask—why are we thinking of banner ads the same way we did in the 90s?! Nothing in the world has remained the same as it was in the 90s, least of all the internet. For those of you not in the know, this was the first banner ad ever made:

We’ve come a long way in 26 years, right? So then, we need to update our thinking and understanding of the internet and online marketplace as the ever-changing beast that it is. Once we do that, we can begin to understand that while banner blindness exists, there are ways to make sure your creatives break through the blindness! Creatives that fall prey to banner blindness do so for a reason, which we’ll go into below. But banner blindness is not an inescapable, wide-mouthed monster waiting for your newest display assets. Embracing forward-thinking and a willingness to adapt your creatives to the current internet and user, and considering their habits, will always yield positive results for your banner ads and other display advertising assets.

 

What Banner Factors Encourage ‘Blindness’?

Before we can talk about how exactly to breakthrough banner blindness, we need to cover what puts them there in the first place. Beyond the already mentioned lack of foresight and forward-thinking in the banner realm, some specifics especially contribute to a digital ad being silenced by a user’s subconscious.

The main culprits are:

  • Incorrect or undefined target audience: your creative should be crafted for a specific segment of customers or potential customers which means that if it’s showing to another demographic, it’s not going to be nearly as effective as the intended audience. If you release your creative to the world to as many users as possible, making it generic enough to be accepted by all, your creative will undoubtedly fall flat. Focus on the people who support your brand.
  • There’s no, or not enough, focus on the customer: for a brand to establish trust with its consumers, it must focus on the consumer’s problems and needs it can help meet.
  • Disconnected branding: maybe you’re appealing to the right audience and focusing on your user’s needs, but can the user easily tell where the messaging they’re seeing is coming from? Research shows that view times on digital display can be as little as 1.2 seconds. If your creative is missing branded assets on any frame, your creative is dropping crucial conversion possibilities.
  • Boring ads: it sounds so simple but it’s one of the most common culprits to bad banners—boring creatives! If it doesn’t make them want to flick their eyes over to the side or top of their screen, it’s not getting seen or remembered. This is precisely why we live by the mantra animate, animate, animate!

 

How to Breakthrough Banner Blindness with Blistering Creatives

Now that we know what not to do, what do we do to keep our creatives from succumbing to banner blindness?

Here are some of the most helpful things you can do:

  • Make sure they are displayed in appropriate, memorable places: know where your clients are online and meet them there with your banners and display ads. No matter the site, platform, or device—your customers should find your display assets in all the right places.
  • Focus on the user: knowing who you’re speaking to and how you can help meet their needs or wants is what creates the initial bonds of trust between a customer and a brand. Focus and build on this always!
  • Have consistent branding: let your customers know who they’re seeing a message from, ensure your brand and messaging makes it into their subconscious by keeping branding on each and every frame.
  • Make it interesting: to be worthy of attention, you’ve got to stand out. The only way to do this is through beautifully animated banner ads with interesting graphics and catchy messaging!

One of the most important things you can do, and where we happen to excel:

  • Animate, animate, animate: Nothing draws the eye like a brilliantly animated ad. Static frames do nothing to encourage users to glance at them, but classy and fitting animations can draw the eye for even a fraction of a second, which is really all it takes!

Another misstep worth noting we see all too often that also contributes to ignored creatives is too high of a frequency. A recent study by Sublime and reported in Campaign “found spontaneous brand awareness increased by 6% when the consumer was exposed to an online ad two to three times. However, more than four exposures proved less efficient, with the rate in awareness dropping by 3%.”

Keep in mind that your creatives should always be optimized for the devices they’re being seen on so that they can be viewed properly by users no matter where they come across them. Aiming to captivate and amaze your audience will never steer your creatives in the wrong direction or put them in a place where they will fall prey to banner blindness. And if you’re unsure about a certain creative or messaging, utilize A/B testing to help your banner ads achieve the greatness they were destined for!