Banner Blindness: 60% Can't Remember The Last Display Ad They Saw

After being asked to recall the last display ad they saw, only 14% could name the company, the brand or the product, suggesting that brands are wasting millions of dollars in ads that consumers don't remember.

The Infolinks study analyzing banner blindness reveals that 60% couldn't recall the last display ad they saw, although 75% of respondents who remembered seeing the last ad remember seeing it online. The survey analyzes responses from U.S.-based consumers in December from all genders, ages, income and education levels.

Relevance remains a key challenge, and 3.65% of respondents who remembered the last ad they viewed did not remember the context. About 80% felt the last ad they saw was not relevant to them. Only 2.8% of respondents said they thought the ads they saw met their needs to either answer a question or provide more information.

The findings also reveal that only half of users ever click on online ads, while 35% click on less than five ads per month. Among online ad viewers, 75% saw the ad on their computer, while the remainder viewed the ad on their phone or tablet.

There are similarities between the way the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, airport security screeners, glaze over liquid-filled bottles in carry-on luggage and the banner ads that consumers searching for information never see. Infolinks CEO Dave Zinman believes improving the 0.1% click-through rates on banner ads requires choosing nontraditional and memorable ad locations to increase the recall by consumers typically bombarded with messages.

Social media works to heighten brand recall, even in banner ads. Some companies -- like Mondelez International, Oreo cookies' parent company -- have begun to link Twitter tweets and television spots to gain higher recall. Not all brands can afford traditional broadcast's high price tag.

Zinman's advice is to avoid delivering ads without first identifying user intent, and serve fewer ads to reduce clutter on pages -- suggesting that brands are willing to pay more for premium, uncluttered experiences if the advertisement prompts consumers to purchase products or download information.

14 comments about "Banner Blindness: 60% Can't Remember The Last Display Ad They Saw".
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  1. DG T from Viewthrough Measurement Consortium, March 19, 2013 at 8:23 a.m.

    Digital marketers should also be looking at viewthrough measurement for evaluating display...for those not familiar with it goto

  2. Virginia Suhr from Lobo & Petrocine, March 19, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.

    We use banners for our clients with great success. However, our measurement is not immediate clicks or recall but if they go to the client's website and actively engage with pages within the website. We have about 10x the number of view conversions vs. click conversions. We have also been able to tell how many people have filled in a form on a website and who they are if they fill in the form.

  3. Lubin Bisson from Qzedia Media Inc, March 19, 2013 at 9:42 a.m.

    Slow news day, Laurie? Banner blindness is a challenge for display, granted, but these ad-recall discussions have always been with us, whether we are are looking at broadcast, print, outdoor, and even top quality sandwich board A-frames. Successful brand executives recognize this reality. I guess the other ones need news like this.....

  4. Charles Pinkerton from Theseus Communications, March 19, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.

    Asking someone if they remember the last banner they saw is like asking if they remember the last billboard they saw. Of course they don't remember -- that's not how the channel works, it a frequency medium, just like Outdoor and Radio are. Asking someone if they remember a banner after they have seen it 5 times or more and you will get a very different answer and a more interesting and useful study.

  5. Rafael Cosentino from Telanya, March 19, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

    Standard sizes (300x250, 728x90) in standard page positions (right rail, header, footer) are largely ignored. Banner Blindness is no secret and advertisers know it. Its one of the reasons the bottom has dropped out of CPM pricing. The Advertisers ability to extract value from these placements has become harder and harder. We have concentrated on non-branded ads in non-standard sizes, content style formats and in-content placements. This has created real value for advertisers and leading CPMs for publishers.

  6. Boris Bauer from TEMPO Strategic, March 19, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.

    When reviewing display ads only on their merit of CTR, recall and destination engagement we are making a big mistake. Several studies have shown how display ads influence brand awareness, intent to purchase and PPC ad performance.
    Robert B. Zajonc’s study, “Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure,” showed clear results of positive brand image after an exposure that lasted 5 milliseconds, much to short for the brain to process or to engage with.
    A recent paper by Kireyev, Pauwels and Gupta "Do Display Ads Influence Search? Attribution and Dynamics in Online Advertising" shows the increased performance of PPC ads and how display ads play a vital role here. Other studies point to "spillover to branded organic search" after the exposure to display ads.
    When evaluating the options and budgets for a media plan marketers have to take in consideration the brand & product and the demographic of the target audience to determine the right marketing mix. Predictive analytics is making strides in the enterprise and I think often these models will show how marketers did not properly attribute the lead and that budgets on media need to get shuffled around to deliver the best bang for the buck. (See recent HBR article "Analytics 2.0")
    In a nutshell. I do like display ads and I think the deliver results – we just need to stop looking only at CTR and engagement.

  7. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 19, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.

    At one time, it was called image advertising. No direct results should be expected so what is behind the door is gravy.

  8. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, March 19, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.

    Let's prove a point...Boris, can you tell me what ad graces the top of this page?

  9. Adam Berke from AdRoll, March 19, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.

    I'm shocked 14% of people COULD remember the last display ad they saw. That's rain man status. As others have pointed out, the ability to recall the last ad seen in any media (TV, print, outdoor, etc) has little to do with the effectiveness.

  10. Boris Bauer from TEMPO Strategic, March 19, 2013 at 1:31 p.m.

    @Mike, the point I want to make is that direct re-call is not what we are looking for. Most of the time people will not even remember even if they would be told before hand. The studies show a clear relation between brand awareness, intent to purchase and search behavior after being exposed to display ads. We are focusing to narrowly on the wrong KPIs.

  11. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, March 19, 2013 at 3:09 p.m.

    @Boris, I get your point, - the predictable company line on .1% response rates, despite the fact that each and every one of these "display" ads carries the same "click here" call to action. Even if we assume that the one person out of 1000 that actually does click through is KPI Poster-Boy material, we should perhaps reconsider the thinking that has us missing the mark on the other 999. The reason for banner blindness should be obvious: We don't see the ads because we don't want them, period.

  12. Eric Conn from Leverege, March 19, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.

    Engagement-based ads that provide consumers with a compelling self-contained experience and don't require them to leave the page may help to reduce the ad blindness problem. We've been seeing average time spent within the ad unit close to 1 minute so I imagine recall would be better. However they are not a panacea or cost-effective in all instances - especially if you're simply looking to increase brand or product awareness.

  13. John Parikhal from joint communications, March 19, 2013 at 5:50 p.m.

    I agree with @Adam Berke. 14% recall is HUGE. Check out this post that talks about why a glass that is 14% full is good news.

  14. John Cosley from Microsoft, March 19, 2013 at 7:37 p.m.

    Why is this viewed in a vacuum? They should be comparing this to the recall rate for ads in other mediums (magazine, billboard, TV, etc.) It's meaningless without context.

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