What is Ad Blindness?
Humans have a natural ability to filter out any unnecessary pieces of information, whilst retaining and processing worthwhile information. Ad Blindness is the behaviour exhibited by users on the web who subconsciously or intentionally become blind and ignorant to page elements that they recognize as online ads. Ad blindness occurs when users selectively focus their attention only on the content that they are interested in.
Web page layouts are somewhat universal and users learn where to look for certain elements of the page. For instance, company logos are usually located in the top left corner, whilst navigation menus can be either located in the left-hand rail or along the top of the page.
Users tend to predict which page elements are worth looking at from prior experience with certain webpage patterns and types. The size and shape of each page element are usually indicative to users as to whether the page element is something that they want to look at. Users have learned to focus their attention on valuable page elements that help them to achieve their goal, whilst becoming ignorant to elements of the page that are not useful.
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What content elements on a web page signal an ad?
- Visual content that resembles ad formats. For example, certain sized images (300×250), GIFs or animated images, or images with a call-to-action.
- Ad-specific page placement. For example, ads on a page are often placed in the right-hand rail or in the banner of the page.
Several eye-tracking studies have shown that nowadays, users have trained their eyes to ignore design elements on-page that signal advertisements. This is particularly the case with mobile users.
So, how does Ad Blindness impact publishers and why should they care?
Many publishers assume that because Ad Blindness causes users to ignore ads, it mainly impacts advertisers and they cannot do much about it. However, this assumption would be incorrect because Ad Blindness affects publishers too.
AdSense publishers, who are paid on a cost-per-click basis, will feel the impact of ad blindness the most as it will result in fewer clicks and lower revenue. Publishers that earn revenue on a CPM basis will be impacted because advertisers do not want to pay for ads with lower engagement rates.
The key to overcoming Ad Blindness and potentially improving your ad revenue is to get users to take notice and engage with the ads on your site, without sacrificing the user experience.
According to Adotas, 86% of online users suffer from Ad Blindness.
What can publishers do about Ad Blindness?
Implement native advertising formats
Native advertising formats resemble the look, feel and function of the medium in which they appear. As native ads blend in with the content, users are much more likely to see and interact with ads. You can learn how to create Native Ads in Google Ad Manager by using our guide.
Target ads to your audience
Ad relevance has a direct impact on engagement and yield, as users are more receptive to personalised ads. Publishers should consider implementing real-time bidding in order to serve highly targeted ads.
Continually experiment with ad placements
An effective way of re-engaging users with your ads is to alternate ad location and sizes. This is because, over time, users become accustomed to a website’s typical layout. Test some unconventional ad placements to establish which layout is the most effective.
Invest in more engaging ad formats
Unique and innovative ad formats are a surefire way to spark users’ interest. One option for this is video ads which yield much higher CPMs than traditional display ads due to their interactive and highly engaging nature.
Quality over quantity
Impersonal and low-quality ads are one of the root causes of Ad Blindness. This is because users react negatively to being overloaded with irrelevant ads that offer little value. Try and be pickier about which ads appear on your website. This will improve the user experience and make your inventory more valuable, resulting in higher CPMs in the long run.