How to Avoid Ad Blindness Online

How to Avoid Ad Blindness Online

What Is Ad Blindness?

Ad blindness or banner blindness is the act of intentionally or intentionally ignoring banner ads on a website.  A banner ad is a graphical box of advertising material placed on web pages to promote commercial goods and services. Banner ads are more common in websites than search engine results and are mostly associated with internet-related industries such as technology, real estate, online shopping, entertainment, and finance.

What Causes Ad Blindness?

After being on the internet for so long, we have developed adaptations to help users get the most out of web pages.  We often visit a website to gather specific information or to accomplish a specific task. 

We know that ads would distract us from our goal, so we ignore them. Here are a few other reasons why we never see ads on a webpage:

  • Location

From years of experience on the internet, we already know where to expect to see an ad. We have learned to automatically look past those areas as we browse a web page, sometimes without even realizing we are doing it. 

  • Ad clutter

Another reason why we don’t notice Ads on a web page is the sheer number of ads on a web page.  When we see too many banner ads, links, and text ads on a webpage, we tend to lose our focus. 

An excessive number of ads causes sensory overload and annoys us. Eventually, we just ignore ads altogether and focus on why we visited the page in the first place.

  • Ad style

Again, our years of experience on the internet have taught us how ads look. We know that an ad will typically look different from the rest of the content. Ads will have fancy fonts, formatting, and font colours. They will also come with colorful backgrounds that differentiate them from the main content and will have some text embedded in the image.

Any time our minds notice any of these signs of an ad, we simply skip over it. It doesn’t matter if the ad is useful or not, we usually don’t see it.

  • Perceived usefulness

Even with advanced targeting tools, ads still get delivered to the wrong people. Anyone who sees an ad that does not relate to their experience will quickly ignore it. 

  • Ads drag down the adjacent elements

It’s not just ads that get ignored. Inappropriately placed ads will cause web visitors to ignore everything around the ad. This includes supporting content placed adjacent to the ad for the sole purpose of encouraging the audience to click or take the desired action. 

With more than 85% of Singaporeans using the internet as the primary source of information, it is not difficult to see why online advertising is booming in the country. Businesses have started the embrace the importance of marketing their products and services online.

One of the challenges of online advertising is ad blindness. So, what is Ad blindness? This primarily refers to the target audience deciding to ignore your advertisements. Recent research shows that only 14% of internet users can recall the last advertisement they came across online and the product or company that it promoted.

Despite the advanced consumer targeting software and technology used by digital marketers in Singapore, relevance remains one of the main challenges they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Reports show that only 3% of internet users in Singapore think online banners and ads are important to their lives. The well-informed online users who are looking for specific information on a site aggravate this problem. This group of internet users tends to ignore online ads as they consider them unimportant.

Here are some easy and useful tips to help you avoid ad blindness online.

How to Avoid Ad Blindness Online

Ad Placement

The first thing that you need to note is that a large percentage of your target audience disregard routine and cliché materials that they come across online.

Try to place your banners in unusual places. Here are three ideas to help you out:

  • At the top of the web page where it is more visible
  • In between the posts published in your blog

The ad should not only be beautiful but also interactive and unique to capture the attention of the audience. Experiment with different ads to know which one works best for your brand. Google Ads gives online advertisers an opportunity to test and perform. Use it to know which ads need to be deleted and which ones need to be promoted more.

Make Use the Right Content

You need to understand the needs and expectations of the target customers to provide relevant solutions to them.

Do not create and post ads online without first knowing your target customer’s needs. Secondly, use the right content including the keywords that resonate with the preferences of the prospects. Thirdly, make use of cookies to create relevant personalized ads. The cookies will help you identify website visitors who have visited your website in the past.

Make sure that you use the right ad network to connect with clients who are interested in your niche and the products or services that you offer. Concisely, making sure that your website has advertisements that are relevant, useful, targeted, and delightful will result in a high CTR and more results.

Optimize the Ads for Mobile

Singapore has the highest smartphone penetration in the world. Most people use mobile devices to access the internet, as they are more convenient than desktops. Hence, make sure that all your online ads are mobile friendly. Consider the following tips as you do this:

One of the highlights of internet advertising is that it is possible to monitor the performance of your ads accurately. That is, you can know the number of people who saw the ad and clicked on it within a given period.

Apart from optimizing your ads for mobile, your website also needs to be mobile-friendly. This will make it possible for the audience to view the contents on a smartphone or any other mobile device without straining.

It is also important to note that a majority of publishers are usually willing to pay more for premium space that is uncluttered. Therefore, make sure that your website pages are free of unnecessary elements.

Try Non-Standard Ad Formats, Colours, and Sizes

As mentioned earlier, most internet users disregard standard or conventional ads and website elements that they come across online on a daily basis. Applying the same colours, sizes, and formats used by hundreds of other businesses can lower the performance of your ads.

Below are some wise tips to help you stay ahead of the curve.

  • Go for the memorable and non-conventional spots on your website when selecting ad space to enhance user recall
  • Your banners should be part of the website page not as an outer ad
  • Improve your brand personality by using unusual colors, animations, motion effects to increase interaction, and any other extraordinary idea that will make your ads more interesting to view and engaging

Ideally, the banner ads should have an emotional hook to capture potential customer’s attention.

Leverage Affiliate Programs

Displaying your ads on related publisher websites is one of the best ways of avoiding ad blindness. The affiliate programs will give you an opportunity to collaborate with other companies who are interested in or targeting the same audience. Evaluate each affiliate program to know which one is most suitable for your business to avoid spending your time and effort in vain.

Follow Your Passion

You need to provide content that your audience will love. Expert digital marketers in Singapore recommend creating content about topics that you are passionate about. For example, if you are interested in technology and your website sells tech products, write articles about it, share videos and infographics to establish an active community of followers.

With a massive following of people who are interested in your content and products, the chances of your ads been ignored are low.

Do not be Afraid to Experiment

If your ads are not performing as expected, experiment to know what you could be doing wrong or elements that need to be changed. Here are six excellent recommendations that you can use for this purpose.

website design banner

  • Ad placement
  • Relevant content
  • Non-standard design elements
  • Optimize the ads and website for mobile
  • Try several affiliate programs
  • Follow your passion

For example, you can repackage the material already published on your site, change the website design, and content calendar to reinvigorate the audience.

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Invest in Video Advertisements

Recent research shows that an average internet user is exposed to 32 videos per month. The report also showed that one-third of all online activity is watching videos. 45.4% of the global internet users watch at least one video online every month.

You can target this large video-loving audience with video advertisements instead of the conventional banner ads and blocks of text. Research done by Media Mind in 2012 showed that videos recorded a CTR of 1.03% while the traditional banners achieved only 0.1% in the same year.

More importantly, the completion rate of video ads is higher than traditional banners. The millennial Media report also found out that mobile videos advertisements are five times more engaging than the standard banners. This is because videos are easy to understand compared to text.

The target customers will get a better understanding of your brand and products by watching videos than reading blocks of text. An average internet user in the current digital era spends 16.49 minutes on average every month watching video advertisements. 80% of internet users remember video ads that they view online and an overwhelming 46% take the desired action after watching them.

8 Tested and Proven Ways of Cushioning Your Brand from Ad Blindness

Check Your Ad Placement

When something is routine and cliché, people ignore it. This is what happens to ads. When you keep placing them the same way everyone else is, your viewers skip over them at the speed of light. 

To avoid ad blindness, try placing your das in unconventional places.  For example, you can try having your ads above the fold. People naturally read from top to bottom. This means they are more likely to place importance on content and ads, that are towards the top of the page. 

Understanding the New Twitter Rate Limit

You can also try adding some ads in between your content. If your ad placement surprises your reader, they are more likely to take notice. 

As you experiment with different ad placements, you can use Google AdWords to test their performance. This way, you can tell when a specific placement or location is not working and change it up.  You can also consider using Infolinks as they have conducted massive research on ad blindness and created ads that beat ad blindness.

Use Relevant Content

Your job as an advertiser is to understand what your audience needs and offer a suitable solution. As we mentioned before, irrelevance is one of the reasons why ads get ignored. You can therefore reduce ad blindness by incorporating more relevant ads.

Start by identifying what your web visitors want. Next, create high-quality content containing keywords that reflect the interest of your audience.

Next, choose the right ad network so you are sure that you are linking your audience to a publisher who is relevant to your audience and your specific focus.

You can also use cookies to identify people who have previously visited your website and create ads that are more relevant to them.

Try Non-Standard Sizes, Colours, And Ad Formats

Seeing similar-looking ads over and ever again bores your website visitors. They start to quickly scroll past areas where they expect to see an ad. This can greatly reduce the performance of your ads

To avoid this problem, come up with something fresh every time you are creating ad space. For example, you can choose a less traditional and memorable spot on your blog to put your ad. You can also use non-standard designs and formats to ensure that your ads are not overlooked.

Instead of creating your ads as if they are just an outside piece added to your web page, create them as part of your page. This will minimize the Ad-like appearance of your ads, which will likely attract more attention than using the usual formats that people are already used to.

Finally, ensure that your ads tell a compelling story with an emotional hook. This is the only way to get people’s attention.

Optimize for Mobile

Most people reading your content will probably be using a hand-held device.  Therefore, one of the best ways to reduce ad blindness is to optimize both your ads and your content for mobile. 

Some of the ways you can create mobile-optimized content are to activate social media campaigns, use more videos, and add a CTA button to your ads.

All the effort to optimize your content for mobile will make no difference if your site is unresponsive. Before you start optimizing your ads and content, ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.  To do this successfully, you have to do a lot of testing to ensure that different elements of your website look as good as possible even on smaller screens.

One of the most effective ways to prevent ad blindness by optimizing for mobile is to serve fewer ads. Add clutter is one of the causes of ad blindness so adding fewer ads will help people spot your ads better. What is more, if you only add few ads, you will attract advertisers who are willing to pay for premium, uncluttered space.

Participate in Affiliate Programs

Another way to reduce ad blindness is to participate in affiliate programs. How does this help? Well, affiliate programs allow you to partner with companies that share the same audience. Showing your ads on an affiliated publisher’s ad can help improve ad blindness.

Experiment with Ad Scheduling and Automation

Unless you have an audience of millions of people, advertising platforms will keep showing your ads to your audience over and over again. This will naturally lead to ad fatigue and ad blindness.  

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Would you like to keep seeing the same ad repeated every time you check your phone? You would rather see an ad only once. If you see it more than twice, you are more likely to feel annoyed and ignore it than you are to take notice and click on it. The same case applies to your audience.

If you keep showing the same ads, you will annoy them. The click-through rates will decrease and the cost per click will increase.  So how do you ensure you keep a low ad frequency?

You can use the metrics on Facebook ad manager and manually change your das when they get to 3.  You can also use a social media automation tool to optimize your campaigns without having to do it manually. An automation tool will automatically pause das once they get to 3 instead of you having to monitor them and change them manually.

Creating a lot of ads and rotating them can also help you to reduce the frequency of each ad. You should also try ad scheduling as it allows you to only show ads on certain days of the week or specific times of the day.

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Ad scheduling works because when you use it, you can easily deliver a different ad for your audience every weekday which will reduce their chances of getting ad fatigue.

Use Colour to Your Advantage

Colors have a physical and psychological effect on people.  As such, you should strive to use them to your advantage, especially when trying to minimize ad blindness.  

There are three main factors you should consider when choosing color combinations:

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  1. Complementation– This refers to how colors complement each other in their interactions
  2. Contrast– This is using colors to create a sense of division between different elements
  3. Vibrancy– This refers to the darkness or brightness of colors that are used to dictate the mood.

You also have several color schemes to choose from when designing your ad. Here is an article that covers the different types of color schemes and their impact when used in online ads. Do A/B tests to know which combination of colors delivers the best results. 

Looking at your competitor’s ads can also give you inspiration but be careful not to copy what they are doing or using the same image. Ideally, you should come up with your own images for every online ad campaign. 

Keep in mind that just using color on itself will not help you increase clicks on your ads. You need to combine the use of color with the other tips we have discussed such as creating top-notch content and reducing ad frequency if you hope to see any results.

Focus On Creating Stunning Designs

Visitors are more likely to be attracted to and click on an ad with compelling designs. Here are five design principles to help you come up with ads that your audience can’t turn a blind eye on

  1. Keep it simple and clean- Group similar elements together and avoid cluttering your advertisement with irrelevant information. Keep the colors to a minimum and avoid verbose copy and flashing images. All the elements in your design should be organized according to their importance starting with the most important elements. You should also add lots of white space to distinguish between elements.
  2. Use sufficient contract- Your ad needs to be different from the webpage to set it apart. The easiest way to add contrast is to use an ad color that is in contrast with your website’s color scheme. If your website is dark-colored, use light colors for your ads.
  3. Add a prominent CTA- To covert, you must convince visitors to engage with your ads. You do this by creating a visible CTA and strategically placing it in the ad body.
  4. Use human faces and directional cues- people like to be directed and there’s no better way to do this than using visual cues such as arrows. People like to see smiling faces, so adding those to your ads will help you minimize ad blindness.


Examples of Online Advertising Blindness

Keep in mind the age-old question, “Does it make a sound if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it?” You might also inquire about advertising similarly. If you show adverts on the Internet and no one clicks on them, or if you run commercials on television and no one watches them, you may feel the same way as that ancient philosopher, wondering what the value is.

Even if a person is present before the advertisement, the advertisement may not register in the person’s mind due to “advertising blindness,” a phenomenon in which consumers might unconsciously tune out advertisements. While advertising blindness may be attributed to various factors, current marketers are working to overcome it.

Banner Ignorance

Internet banner advertisements, regardless of their prevalence, are easily ignored by consumers. According to a survey, up to 43% of Internet users disregard banner advertisements – a condition dubbed “banner blindness.” Banner blindness is not often the result of a conscious decision to ignore advertising, but rather the outcome of Internet usage conditioning the eyes to gaze in specific directions. According to research that observed Internet users’ eye movements, individuals are skilled at concentrating on the substance of a website and disregarding any unnecessary stuff — mainly display adverts.

Advertising On Social Media

Marketers are always trying out new and unusual techniques of contacting customers in order to circumvent advertising blindness. This includes social advertising on the Internet. Social advertising may be pretty direct, such as a business reaching out to its customers via a Twitter or Instagram account. It can also refer to more subversive forms of advertising, such as viral videos, sponsored social media placements, and purchased evaluations on client review sites.

Integrated advertising

Because advertising blindness can occur due to your subconscious capacity to distinguish advertising from the material, marketers are exploring increasing the proximity of their ads to your content. 

For instance, in-image advertising is a technique in which display advertisements are linked directly to an Internet picture – not only is this way more difficult for customers to ignore, but it also allows for the use of algorithms to guarantee that the advertisement is relevant to the image. 

For example, a car photograph may have been accompanied by a banner advertisement for a car dealership website. As was the case during the collapse of traditional banner advertisements, it may only be a matter of time until Internet consumers become immune to this sort of advertising as well.

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Ad Blindness: Is There a Better Way? 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or are utterly unfamiliar with digital advertising), you’re aware that Social Media advertisements have been tearing a hole in the advertising market. Notably, Facebook advertisements.

The world’s largest social network has raised the bar with hyper-targeted advertisements that can identify viewers based on their demographics, hobbies, and behaviours, as well as individuals who have engaged with your site or social profile, as well as individuals who share similar interests (and habits) with your other audiences.

Is It Better to Avoid Banner Ad Campaigns?

While there are a variety of alternatives and methods to attempt with your banner advertisements, there may come a moment when you must choose whether a banner ad strategy is the most cost-effective way to increase your ad performance.

Banner advertisements may be costly, mainly if you’re competing for space on the front pages of industry heavyweights.

When paired with banner blindness and low engagement, this high initial cost might significantly negatively impact your bottom line. Apart from banner advertisements, there is a range of other ad forms that are less expensive and more effective.

Sidebar and mid-page advertisements can be visible to readers for extended periods and have a greater chance of being noticed. Readers will not instantly scroll partway down a page to avoid the ad content at the top.

Additionally, you may alter your advertising strategy to include native advertising and interactive tactics in your social advertisements, which can be far more cost-effective and targeted at specific demographics than broad web page readership.

The Effects of Banner Blindness on Publishers

With over 1.6 billion websites and over 5 billion daily web visitors, internet advertising is highly competitive. Placing banner advertising in locations where people anticipate seeing adverts has been demonstrated to affect click-through rates significantly. Publishers must carefully control their content style in order to ensure that their adverts get noticed.

Advertisements that are poorly conceived and utterly unrelated to the target demographic are proven to alienate consumers and drive away potential buyers.

By understanding the foundations of how humans scan online pages, publishers and marketers may apply many ways to minimise banner blindness.

How It Affects for Publishers, Bloggers, and Webmasters

Placing banner advertisements in areas where people cannot see them or are predisposed to disregard them can affect click-through rates. Areas such as the website’s top-right corner or right sidebar are frequently overlooked because they are subconsciously/consciously associated with advertising.

When banner advertisements first began to appear on websites, it was discovered that curiosity drives individuals to click on anything shiny or compelling. However, with the proliferation of ads on websites over the years, individuals have developed an aversion to them and have learnt to disregard them.

This is certainly terrible news for bloggers and web admins that monetize their sites with pay-per-click advertising; the emergence of default banner blindness.

How Do We Identify These Blind Advertising Spots?

Fortunately, robust analytics software is now available to assist bloggers and web admins in determining the success of their present ad placements.

Usability testing with eye-tracking and heatmaps. They have been utilised in digital research projects to assess a user’s cognitive activity for a very long time. It is a procedure for websites in which visitors’ optical motions are observed and evaluated in order to increase conversion rates. It is one of the strategies for overcoming banner blindness.

The data gathered throughout this procedure gives insight into the following:

  • What form of content piques their interest (images, texts, videos, etc.)
  • Whatever section of the website visitors are concentrating their attention on and which areas they are skipping

Additionally, it indicates how far down the page visitors scroll, whether they’re scanning or reading the content, and how they’re browsing the website. These findings are critical for comprehending the causes that contribute to the growing prevalence of banner blindness.

Testers can generate heatmaps using these eye track patterns. These heatmaps illustrate which areas received the most significant attention and were overlooked, with the latter emphasised in the dark. As a webmaster, you may wish to reconsider the layout if blind places include any critical content or ad units.

As is the case with the majority of usability assessments, eye tracking alone will not reveal anything. To make the most of these examinations, you must ask intelligent questions. Numerous experimenters collect this data using task-oriented tests that focus on how a user completes a particular activity.

Explanation Of Eye Tracking Examinations

Research invited participants to look up the country’s current population on the website of the United States Census Bureau. Even though the solution was prominently displayed in the top right corner of the site’s homepage in a bright red hue, 86 percent of participants could not identify it.

How were they manage to exclude such easily accessible and readable information? The reason for this is that it is aggressively structured and presented in a promo, advertisement-like manner.

It is revealed that consumers scan the page section containing the solution but only read the first three digits. 1/3 of individuals were unaware of the population clock. The individuals who did, however, did not utilise it even though it included the solution.

Thus, eye tracking data may be used to improve websites by altering their layouts, colours, buttons, and pictures, making the website more useful by placing the necessary element in the proper location, and combating the impacts of banner blindness.

The Fundamentals Of Colour Theory

Colours elicit a variety of responses in various people. Rarely do we come across a website with only one colour. Typically, we adhere to a colour pallet. Consider the following three variables when considering colour combinations:

  • Complement (how colours interact with each other)
  • In comparison (used to create a sense of division between elements)
  • The vibrancy of an object, often known as its brightness or blackness (used to dictate mood)

Now, let us consider a few colour schemes. The primary colour will determine the colour scheme in your room (s). This might originate from your marketing collateral, logo, or the setting of your website.

An excellent technique to choose a dominant colour is first to consider the phrases that best represent your website or business and then choose a colour that closely matches those terms.

Monochromatic: This colour scheme uses several shades of the same colour, whether it’s blue, orange, green, or any other hue. When properly utilised, it may portray an attractive and clean appearance. White and black shades are advised to break up the monotony if necessary.

Analogous: In this situation, the colour palette will comprise adjacent colours on the colour wheel. Often, one colour will take precedence, the second colour will complement the dominant hue, and the third colour will act as an accent.

Contrasting: These are hues that are found in direct contrast to one another. For instance, red-green, orange-blue, and yellow-violet are all examples of complementary colours. To maintain a lively appearance, the appropriate difference must be applied. Generally, this strategy does not generate a sufficient number of clicks.

Triadic: These colour schemes comprise a triangle of three hues (colours) evenly spaced on the colour wheel. The beauty of this scheme is that it cannot appear gaudy because each shade counterbalances the other two.

Reduced Advertisements Or Increased Advertisements?

It is not uncommon to come across websites that are densely packed with advertisements in every conceivable spot. Does a page with more advertisements result in a better CTR, or vice versa?

According to studies, when it comes to internet advertising, consumers have a finite attention span. They have a daily limit on the number of advertisements they may watch. We frequently question why our visitors aren’t performing when we bombard them with adverts.

The fact is that we’re putting the most important thing first: the user experience. To realise any profit, we must refocus our efforts on user experience.

Instead of saturating the market with advertisements, we should limit ourselves to a small number and devote our efforts to maximising those few to their full potential. We need to offer people advertisements they want to view, in the locations and at times they want to see them.

To maximise our return on investment, we must ensure that each advertisement on our page precisely compliments our content. Contextually relevant ads are more likely to meet the visitor’s goal or need that brought them to your website in the first place.

As with substance, the number is irrelevant; what matters is quality. Due to banner blindness, advertisements that adhere to conventional IAB formats are ineffective. As web admins and bloggers, we need to be more inventive and think outside the box regarding ad delivery.

As a publisher, we need to reduce the number of available ad spots to reduce competition among the advertising. We’re looking to sell a few premium ad places. This not only ensures the quality of the advertisements but also enhances the customer experience.

Which Is Better For Overcoming Banner Blindness: Text Ads Or Banners?

While bright banner advertisements draw more attention, they do not retain it effectively. On the other hand, simple text adverts fit in easily with the website’s consistency and flow. Text advertisements frequently mirror the textual material that surrounds them.

According to research, text advertisements garner the most views and attention, especially when the ad’s backdrop colour matches the web pages. One explanation for this is that the majority of text adverts are connected to the website’s theme.

To effectively combat banner blindness, we must remember what produced it in the first place: the constant barrage of advertisements in front of disinterested people. Visitors will click on an ad if it satisfies their needs. You will not require a spectacular ad. It demonstrates the critical nature of the eye route and placement.


Ad blindness is a challenge that can hamper the growth of your online business. Start applying all the above-tested tips to avoid it and get maximum ROI. Consider delegating the task of creating, distributing, and monitoring the online ads to a team of professionals who have the necessary skills and expertise.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media




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