How to combat banner blindness in digital advertising

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Banner blindness is the phenomenon of users consciously or subconsciously ignoring web banner adverts. It can be so powerful that users tend to ignore all content resembling a banner advert – even if it is not one.

The reason is obvious: users are bombarded with excessive amounts of advertising on websites and eventually develop indifference towards them. Other research has found that users have not only developed banner blindness, but they also ignore text-based advertising on websites - skipping these areas of the page.

How to combat banner blindness

Many websites use tools that trick or force users to look at advertisements. Examples include pop-up messages, adverts that cover what the user is trying to see, or automatically playing sounds.

These methods can be effective, but it’s also likely that these techniques will annoy users. Frustrated customers tend to transfer their negative feelings towards the advertiser, which can result in lower customer satisfaction. Businesses should avoid using these advertising techniques and instead focus on delivering messages that are relevant for the user.

The focus should be on delivering a personalised and targeted offer that helps the customer to solve an actual problem or pain point.

Rather than tricking or forcing users to look at advertisements, companies should carefully design their online marketing banners, taking usability and design elements under consideration.

For instance, it’s been proven that certain design elements and images in digital banking, such as human faces and eyes, attract human attention.

Customers pay more attention to the opinions and advice of their friends and peers than advertisements

Additionally, the IAB conducted an effectiveness study with the help of Mediacom, GfK, Sony Mobile and Samsung, to show the impact of videos as an advertising medium both pre-roll and in-banner.

The results showed that the video advertising for the campaigns monitored were successfully used for building the brand and delivered increased brand awareness and favourability. The results also provided evidence of moving potential customers along the sales funnel with the target audience more likely to search online or visit the brand’s website. 

Another method is to make advertisements less banner-like. The more an advertisement resembles native online or mobile banking page content, the more users will look at it. According to a study from Vibrant Media, more than 50 % of smartphone and tablet users initiate ads on their devices by mistake and 33% of internet users find display ads completely intolerable.

When using online or mobile banking, users read very differently than when they are reading a book. When a customer visits the bank’s online or mobile banking channels, they have a certain goal they want to accomplish, such as checking an account balance or making a payment. Until they complete their objective or find what they are looking for, users do not read every word.

Rather, they scan, looking for keywords. The advertisement may only have a split second to convey its message and draw the user’s attention. Short, simple messages and images should be used that do not require any complex interpretation.

More complex advertisements and messages could be displayed when the user has accomplished his or her goal.

Personalisation is key

Businesses also need to make sure they do not spam their customers.

According to a study released by Janrain, nearly three quarters of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests. 

It is better to deliver fewer but more relevant and targeted messages – and firms can do that now by using data analytics together with campaign management tools to segment their customers efficiently and deliver relevant messages.

Gamification tools that reward consumers for providing details of their goals or aspirations are very helpful in providing valuable customer insight that can be used to segment and personalise marketing campaigns.

The use of interactive adverts to educate customers about products – using tools such as quizzes, calculators, questionnaires and online chat will also help businesses understand the customer’s needs, pain points and goals. Companies should position their messages as tips or expert advice rather than advertisements.

Consumers listen to their peers

Customers pay more attention to the opinions and advice of their friends and peers than advertisements. This means that, apart from investing into advertising, businesses need to be interacting with their customers where they spend most of their time – on social media platforms.

This is where customers talk about your business and your offerings and where they look for recommendations. With the influence that social commerce has in today's marketplace, businesses have to integrate social media into their marketing strategies.

For instance, banks should motivate and reward customers for recommending products to their friends and family. Digital banking applications should also provide satisfied customers with the facility to share messages and reviews on social media, especially at the end of a successful sales process or customer interaction.

Responding to growth of digital channels

With over three billion internet users in the world and mobile penetration increasing in every industry, it will be essential for businesses to address banner blindness and carefully understand customer behaviour.

This will allow them to turn their online interactions into a strategic revenue-generating channel and help meet customer needs in an ever-increasing digital world.

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