Ad Blindness - Why Your Ad Has Low CTR and How to Fix It

April 27, 2021 Ad Blindness Domain Picture

When it comes to the online advertising, our brain’s self-defence against excessive information results in a phenomenon called ad blindness.


Our minds are constantly exposed to various kinds of information every day. Scientists say the average person in the Western world is exposed to as many ads throughout a single day as someone in the 15th century would encounter in their entire life.


This pressure has a tendency to grow as businesses and technologies get better at grabbing our attention. Being constantly under fire by all kinds of notifications, our minds have no choice but to defend themselves. We learn to ignore and block unwanted information, such as loud radio advertising, screaming billboards or just an annoying street vendor. 


What is ad blindness? 

Ad blindness is a term describing website visitors consciously or unconsciously ignoring ad placements. It describes the user’s tendency to ignore parts of the webpage that perceive to be advertising. For online publishers, this results in declining ad revenues.


How common is this phenomenon? Studies show that as high as 93% of all ads remain unviewed by website visitors. Modern-day advertising click-through rate averages around to 0.2-0.3% . For the common users in 2021, ad blindness has become the norm rather than exception. 


After all, businesses are still investing obscene amounts of cash on ads. Spending is projected to reach almost US$60 bln in 2021. With an annual growth rate of 5.40%, the market is expected to increase to a volume of US$73 bln by 2025.


Ad blindness still is, and most likely always will be, a problem for online publishers. Low CTR means lower revenues, and the goal of every publisher is to maximize CTR by placing ads in a way to be least affected by the ad blindness.



What are the causes?

According to a research by Nielsen Norman Group, it’s an instance of selective attention.


“People direct their attention only to a subset of the stimuli in the environment — usually those related to their goals. This behavior is a consequence of our limited attention capacities. If we were to attend to the enormous inflow of sounds and patterns that surround us, we would be overwhelmed and behave inefficiently.”  -Nielsen


To put it in simpler terms, most web pages include lots of different elements: search boxes, navigation bars, actual content, and advertising. All of which fight for users’ attention. And websites are only becoming “heavier”, with additional components like chatbots and pop-up notifications gaining popularity. 

Of course, selective attention is something we all share, and CTR rates can be extremely different depending on the website. One could say that ad blindness is a disease that grips some banners more than others. Here are a few common factors causing ad blindness. 


  • Ad location.

Clearly, the location of the ad is a major factor. Users put most attention towards the left-central part of the page where most content is normally located. With their focus starting from top left towards the bottom right of the page. That’s why ad banners placed in the right part of the page are avoided more. Banners at the top of the page below the navigation area normally have a higher CTR. 


  • The number of ads on a page. 

Total number of ad banners and other types of advertising on a single page is another major factor. The more ads there is, the higher user ad blindness rate you’ll witness. 


  • Ad design and animation. 

Users tend to dislike animated banners as well as the use of bright colors. Even though animation and screaming colors can be effective, they annoy the users. This in turn perpetuates the problem and lowers CTR. 


  • User’s objectives. 

A lot depends on the individual viewers as well. You could say that there are two kinds of web users: ones searching for specific information with a clear goal, and ones browsing aimlessly without purpose. Predictably, users of the first type tend to be a lot more ad-blind. As you may suspect, the brain is better at filtering out information when it is searching for specifics. 


  • Individual factors. 

And of course there are many other factors that you can consider as a cause. Viewer’s existing opinion on the product, recognition and attitude towards the brand, as well as user’s familiarity with the website. All these play an important role in understanding the issue at its core. 


How do you stop this madness?! 


To make it clear right off the bat, you can’t actually stop ad blindness. You can only minimize the effects with some tested methods. Let’s look at a few ways to reduce ad blindness and improve ad CTR. 


  • Native ads. 

Native advertising is a way to match ads to the form and function of the website they reside. These ads come in various formats, and they blend the ads to look as part of the website content. There are various strategies such as location, design, and contextual blending of the ad to the site. 

Native advertising is a proven strategy, with 70% of users saying they want to learn about products through content rather than ads. 


  • Targeting and relevance. 

Making ad banners more relevant to website viewers also helps to lower ad blindness and improve CTR. With various sophisticated platforms and technologies available, publishers can make their ads more relevant in a number of ways by targeting based on user behavior analysis, you can greatly decrease ad blindness. 


  • Unconventional ad sizes and locations. 

Trying banner sizes that differ from traditional options in terms of size and location is one to try. Regularly changing both the size and location of banners, you ensure users do not gain familiarity with your ad placements.


  • Attractive ad design. 

Unsurprisingly, people tend to click and give more attention to well-designed and attractive banners. You can’t complain about CTR being too low if your banners look ugly.  


AdOps Suite by pubGENIUS to optimize and reduce ad blindness

As you can see, ad blindness is quite a complex issue, and overcoming it may require a lot of focused work from a publisher. This is a problem that our AdOps specialists help deal with on a daily basis. AdOps Suite by pubGENIUS includes the tools and methodologies you need to help counteract this issue.  


If you are struggling with low CTR on your ad placements, reach out today and our team will provide you a free analysis of your site and ways to improve 🙂