Study Summary: Banner blindness is real

    Study Summary: Banner blindness is real

  • 1 Banner blindness confirmed as real

    An eye-tracking study confirmed that users almost never look at content that looks like an advertisement. This effect is popularly called banner blindness. 

  • 2 Banner blindness affects people outside the internet

    A poorly designed ballot from Florida in the 2006 election made 13% of voters fail to cast their vote for the House of Representatives. The cause of the problem was attributed to 'banner blindness'; parts of the ballot resembled an ad.

  • 3 Hundreds of pages were tested

    The study tested hundreds of pages and on no page did users fixate their gaze on an ad.

  • 4 Users engaged with content in 3 ways

    Users engaged with content on pages in 3 ways: quickly scanning it, partially reading it, and thoroughly reading it.

  • 5 Looking for details or quick facts made no difference

    Regardless of whether users just entered the page to get their quick facts or to read every detail, banners were totally ignored.

  • 6 Users are blind to banner-like design elements too

    Interestingly, even legit content that resembled an ad in one way or another was totally ignored by users.

  • 7 Banner details escaped users who fixated on them

    On one or two occasions, some users fixated on a banner but they couldn't recall any details at all. The fixation was so short that the eye-tracking had to be slowed down to identify it. 

  • 8 Banner blindness doesn't extend to search engine and classified ads

    Search engine ads and classified ads are an exception. They get some of the user's attention. This is probably because they are similar in design to legit content.

  • 9 Native ads could solve the issue

    Making an ad more similar to the surrounding text increases the chances that users will see it. Experts advise against it as it's considered unethical and doesn't build trust on the long term.

  • 10 Banner blindness was first identified in the late 90s

    Banner blindness was first identified in 1997. This means that people have been ignoring regular banners since the late 90s.

  • 11 Banner blindness started with the internet, not TV

    TV is an emotional, passive medium where viewers are exposed to flashy ads that engage on an emotional level. Internet is an active, cold, goal-driven medium where users come for a purpose. Banners only distract them from their mission, and are thus seen as obstacles to be ignored.

  • 12 Some banners are an exception

    There are a few elements that draw the user's attention on a banner. These are text, red background, faces, cleavage and intimate body parts.