Considering the large volume of ads a person typically encounters in a day, it’s understandable that, over time, we have become conditioned to block out some of that noise. With the average person’s screen time at an all-time high, people are exposed to more ads than ever before. Consequently, people are starting to experience a phenomenon we call “banner blindness.”

What is banner blindness?

Banner blindness is based on our natural instinct to block out anything that we perceive as ‘noise’ in order to complete a task such as reading an article online or scrolling through our Facebook feed. Although this can apply to may different elements on a page, in this article, we will be focusing on display ads. Because display ads are commonly placed in approximately the same area from site to site, they have become easy for users to skip over in order to more efficiently complete their task at hand. One study reported that 86% of users suffer from banner blindness. This is a problem for us as marketing professionals, so here are a few tips to combat banner blindness.

Make an impact with color

Using eye-catching colors that align with your brand’s identity is fundamental, but extremely vital when designing banner ads. Do your research and visit the sites where your ad will be placed. Make sure that you use colors that contrast and pop against the background, which will prevent your ads from getting lost in the design of the site and ultimately prevent a user from simply not seeing it at all. If your banner is white and is placed on a white webpage, make sure to add a light gray border around your banner. Our eyes are drawn to contained content, so this is another simple way to help catch the user’s attention.

Make a human connection

When it makes sense with your message, incorporate human faces in your banner ads. We are social creatures by nature, so it’s easier for us to make a connection to an image of a human being as opposed to an image of a product. We interact with people every day, and with every interaction our brains interpret micro expressions and translates them in a split second so we know how to respond appropriately. When we see faces, we automatically empathize and connect, which makes them a powerful design tool.

Utilize movement

With the introduction of animated banners, it’s becoming harder to ignore ads. Instinctually, our attention is drawn to movement. Animating in elements allows you to tell a story with typography and images in a way that static banners simply cannot. You can use movement to create emphasis on certain words or tell a story through animating in multiple images. When animating banners, it’s important to remember that your logo should be visible in all frames, so that no matter at what point you draw the user’s attention, you are creating brand awareness. Keep your animation short and impactful, don’t rely on the user to stick around to watch a long-winded story. Your animation should be no longer than 15 seconds, according to the The Internet Advertising Bureau. The last frame of your animation should be a clear call to action.

Lastly, keep in mind that creating a fallback static image is important when submitting animated banner ads. If, for some reason, your ad doesn’t run normally, this default will be used in its place and should include the same messaging and call to action.

Keep it short and sweet

When we do get someone’s attention, it may only be for a moment. The user is focusing on a set task, so if we keep our messaging short, catchy, and easy to digest, we can create the most impact on the user without interrupting their task. Most banner ads are small by nature, so keeping your content short will also help the readability of your text size. As mentioned above, it’s important to remember that web banners aren’t the place to try to tell a long and complicated story. Decide what your most important point is and focus on communicating that effectively.

Keep it organized

Keep in mind the organization and hierarchy of content on your banners. Brand logos are usually displayed at the top, your short-and-sweet line of copy in the middle, then a call to action (commonly called a CTA) at the bottom. The call to action should be the dominant piece in your banner ad and be very easy to find. This is where you are calling on the user to click through to your website or landing page. The call to action usually consists of messaging such as “Visit us today” or “Schedule your appointment.” You want to make your CTA as clear and concise as possible so there is no question on where the users will be directed to. Keep your call to action the same on all of your banners at the different sizes for consistency.

Remember that click through rates aren’t everything

The average click through rate in 2018 was 0.05% according to This number seems very low, so why bother? It’s important to note that click-through rates aren’t everything. Even if a user didn’t click through on your banner ad, your brand is being put in front of them, creating valuable brand awareness and in the long run, increasing purchase intent. The user subconsciously stores this information in the back of their minds, and when it comes time to, for example, buy a new phone, they will recall brands or companies that they have frequently had exposure to. To your user, the exposure to your brand translates into a feeling of trust over a brand they’re not as familiar with.

Key takeaways

Banner ads have been around for a very long time and will continue to be a valuable way to reach your target audience, even as they evolve over time. These are just a few things to consider as you start designing web banners that will increase engagement and make your ads more impactful. Always keep in mind that your target audience has a task, and it doesn’t include hunting for your banner ad, so keep your ads easy to digest and design to get some attention.