Let’s talk about the web page you were on right before this one. Do you remember the ad on the left sidebar? Had you noticed the banner above the content you wanted? Did you notice the animated banner at the right? Chances are, your answers to these are no, no and no. You are not alone, as the Nielsen Norman Group’s usability studies using eye tracking technology indicate.(1) As the following image shows, users almost never look at anything that resembles an ad, even if it is not an ad.
Heatmaps from eyetracking studies: The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn’t attract any fixations. Green boxes were drawn on top of the images after the study to highlight the advertisements.
Such banner blindness means that users want to find what they are looking for quickly, and get away from the webpage to more important things, or they want to read content in depth without letting ads distract them. If the situation is this, how do banner ads work then? They work because every so often a banner is interesting enough for the user to give it some time, and if the banner does not have what it takes to be a great banner, the user will go away just as soon. Multiple elements go into making a banner eye-catching and attention-grabbing, and these elements work together to make your banner campaign a success.
An Appealing Punch Line
No banner is complete without a catchy punch line that can attract users to click on the banner. The punch line needs to be intelligent, relevant and no more than a few words, displayed in the right colour and font in order to really grab the user’s attention
Include Your Logo and Web URL
Ad campaigns are also brand-building exercises and that is why it is important to include both the logo and the web URL of your business on the banner. However, remember that the user wants to know what you can offer and not how well-crafted your logo is, so try to keep a corner on the right or left side of the banner for the logo and the url and keep the rest of the banner for images and copy.