What is Banner Blindness (and What Can You Do About It)?

banner blindness

The phenomenon of “banner blindness”, or the tendency of users to completely ignore banner advertising, has gotten more attention in the mobile advertising world lately.  The banner ad, a familiar hold out from desktop advertising, is most often viewed as the least effective of all mobile ad units. Its size makes it easy for users to ignore; its format limits the amount of rich media that advertisers can incorporate to attract users. Though the banner ad is usually unobtrusive and doesn’t interrupt the user’s overall app experience, publishers typically see low engagement and even lower revenue when using this ad unit alone.

However, as we explore in our whitepaper, In-App Advertising & the User Experience, banners can work for publishers in some situations.

Banners Work in Emerging Markets

Banners perform much better than the global average in emerging and developing markets, especially those in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. To begin, sizeable portions of the population in these regions are just coming online through mobile. This means that many people in these regions have not been exposed to banner advertising for two decades like their counterparts in markets like the US, making banner blindness less of an issue. In addition, the availability of both reliable mobile data and the performance of affordable mobile phones in parts of these regions doesn’t allow for a lot of rich media content, making banner ads the logical option for advertisers. Slowing a user’s phone down to a crawl just to load a heavy interstitial ad will end up doing more harm to the user’s experience than a simple banner ad would.

However, even as we speak, mobile is becoming more and more sophisticated in emerging markets. Though banner ads still make up a lion’s share of the advertising market share, more complex ads are on the rise as mobile data coverage grows and more manufacturers offer higher-powered affordable smartphones. It will be interesting to see how the CTR and CR numbers above shift over the next year or two.

Should I still use banners?

Banner ads remain one of the few mobile ad units that usually don’t break up the user experience in any way, and when targeted to the right groups of users (like the regions above), they can produce a decent return for publishers. These returns can also increase depending on the type of app that the banner is shown in. Because it is static and small, banners can be much better suited to certain app experiences than an interstitial or video ad because banners don’t require a natural break in action to be shown.

Below are the top 10 app categories for CTR and CR for banners:

When reviewing the above data, banner ads clearly perform better than average in apps where there are a limited number of screens. Banner ads also have their place within mobile gaming, as evidenced above, especially when used on home and menu screens where users regularly return.

For more about how to combat banner blindness and how to improve your revenue from in-app advertising, download our whitepaper: In-App Advertising & the User Experience.

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