Become a M
As one 16-year-old high school junior from Liberty Township, Ohio, states:
She knows she’s going to be blasted with advertising every time she checks Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. In her words, it’s “a few posts, an ad” then, “a few more posts, another ad.”
“I think it’s everywhere,” she says, adding that she most often sees ads for makeup or food. “But it doesn’t really bother me. I usually just scroll past it.”
Banner Blindness (or ad blindness)
Banner Blindness (or ad blindness) is a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information.
Back in 2012 while I was working for Faulkner BMW, one of my responsibilities was to consult with management in order to improve marketing efforts that are compatible with those of the organization in terms of internet lead generation, sales conversion and social engagement. At the time we were running ads on Cars.com and Autotrader.com, so I was responsible for speaking with the Cars.com and Autotrader.com reps. Back then the big sell (and maybe it still is today) were the banner ads. Banner ads come in all shapes and size and are still around and available for purchase (see picture below).
The problem I had with running banner ads (for a premium price too!) had to do with the discovery Facebook had made back in 2007, which was that banner advertisements on Facebook had generally received one-fifth the number of clicks compared to those on the Web as a whole.
When they launched, Facebook really didn’t understand online advertising. They didn’t understand the terminology of CPMs or how to sell digital ads in general, but they really understood their product and their audience.
Immediately, Facebook began to look into the issue saying, “[that they were] discussing changes to a controversial advertising tool that publicizes users’ Web activities outside of the popular social network.” We now understand that tool to be Facebook Ads. In the process, the social network boosted its revenue from $382,000 in 2004 to a projected $5 billion by 2013, less than a decade after launching.
You can see why I was skeptical of banner ads.
Over the last few years, the social media revolution has completely redefined marketing. The term “banner blindness” was coined long before the existence of Facebook. It was actually coined by Benway and Lane as a result of website usability tests where a majority of the test subjects either consciously or unconsciously ignored information that was presented in banners BACK IN 1998!
Later on, Pagendarm and Schaumburg (2001) argued that a possible explanation for the banner blindness phenomenon lay in the way users interacted with websites. Users tend to either search for specific information or aimlessly browse from one page to the next. Users have constructed web related cognitive schemata for different tasks on the web.
Bad marketing and ads that are not correctly targeted make it more likely for consumers to ignore banners that aim at capturing their attention. Social sites, such as Facebook have made this exceedingly obvious. Like the example above of the 16-year-old from Ohio, this phenomenon called ‘purposeful blindness’ shows that consumers can adapt fast and become good at ignoring marketing messages that are not relevant to them.
Marketers deserve kudos for making the right calls and applying creative solutions.