The internet is chock full of ads, but do you actually see them? Moreover, have you ever clicked on one of those pesky banner ads sitting in the margins of your favorite website on purpose? Chances are, you haven’t very often. In 2013, clickthrough rate on banner ads was 0.1%. Allegedly, you’re more likely to birth twins than to click on a banner ad (unless you’re a guy of course).

And as recent research shows, traditional banner ads might have become an $8 billion-a-year marketing relic. Using eye-tracking technology, researchers at the Nielson Norman Group (NNG) found that Internet users pretty much ignore banner ads:

A Heat Map of Where Internet Users Look While Online

graphical user interface

Source: Nielson Norman Group

While most of the attention went to the website’s main content, virtually none of it was on the margins or the top header. The heat map also shows that users skipped over things that even remotely looked like they could be ads (even if they weren’t). After years of experiencing banner ads, we may have just learned to ignore anything that resembles them.

Which might explain the recent surge in native advertising (ads that are integrated into a website and look like actual content). As Jakob Nielson of NNG puts it:

“This overtly violates publishing’s principle of separating ‘church and state’ — that is, the distinction between editorial content and paid advertisements should always be clear. Reputable newspapers don’t allow advertisers to mimic their branded typefaces or other layout elements. But, to maximize [eye] fixations, that’s exactly what you should do in a Web ad.”

At this point, we probably should disclose that this post was sponsored by Gillette Razors. Just kidding. But seriously, five blades are pretty great [wink wink]. 

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