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Take a moment and think about how much money your company spends on advertising. Do you have a good estimate, or even an exact number, in mind? Now think about how much of that money is going toward online ads. How many people do you think see that advertisement on a random website? The number is pretty high, actually. In 2012, over 5.3 trillion ads were served to Internet users in the United States.

Served can be a loaded word, though. Just because the users saw these ads doesn’t mean they really internalized them. In other words, they saw them, but didn’t do anything about them. More numbers show that up to 50% of clicks on banner ads are accidental and that only 8% of users make up for over 85% of clicks. One study has even shown that the average user is more likely to die in a plane crash than to click on a banner ad. Isn’t that crazy?

By now, you are probably wondering what the point of having banner ads is. In all honesty, these statistics are pretty terrifying. But some bad statistics don’t mean that banner ads are dead.

Most Internet users have something called banner blindness. Banner blindness is exactly what we’ve been talking about above. People are turning a blind eye to display advertising because they are just too used to them.

Fighting banner blindness sometimes feels like an uphill battle, but there are ways to overcome it. There are forms of display advertising that actually work. You just need to switch things up.

Make Your Ads Relevant

Ignoring a banner ad is easy because the messaging is typically not relevant in any way, shape, or form to the content on the webpage. A person is more likely to click on an ad that is relevant to their interests. This has become easier to do with cloud-based advertising, but many companies are still getting it wrong.

Take an example from Charles Schwab. When the financial crisis hit in 2011, they were on the ball and immediately changed their ads to address the concerns their clients had. The benefits of this solution? They were able to increase their interaction rate by 3 times and their click-through rate (CTR) by 63%. If they hadn’t updated their ads so quickly, consumers would have seen banners about the company’s new mobile product, which was interesting, but not important to customers at the time.

Make Your Ads Interactive

We all know the ads that pop up out of nowhere, intruding upon your valued browsing time. They get in the way with their cheesy music and promises of rewards for interaction, taking you away from the content you really want. Interaction is good within an ad, but it should follow certain guidelines.

Interaction allows a user to stay within the original page, but it also provides an opportunity for you to introduce your brand. It allows you to actively promote your product and asks the user to truly see what’s going on, without forcing them to your website.

Include visual clues in your interactive banners to show users that it won’t take them away from the content they were reading earlier. Things such as scroll bars and tabs let users know that the ad won’t be invasive.


There may have been a time when you thought that getting ads out to every website possible was a good idea. This may have been true in the past, but it’s not effective anymore. If you have ads everywhere and anywhere on the web, it’s time to do some retargeting.

Retargeting is a way to keep your brand in front of customers, even after they’ve left your website. Unfortunately, only about 2% of your traffic converts after the first visit to your site. In order to get the rest, some action needs to be taken.

Let’s say a potential customer visits your site. They put a few things in their cart, but leave without ever checking out. If you’ve done your retargeting right, your website will drop an anonymous cookie onto that customer. When they get back on the web, they’ll start seeing your ads when they are browsing other locations. This is especially important because it targets users that have already expressed interest in your brand and may just need a reminder to give you a second look.

Getting Back on Track

The effectiveness of display advertising isn’t dead. There will always be banner ads on the web, and it’s up to you to make your own ads different enough to become effective again. While there are some scary statistics out there pertaining to this kind of advertising, you can make a change and get back on track in no time.