Most consumers have a better chance of being in a plane crash and surviving than they do of intentionally clicking on a banner ad on the web, according to Adam Rock, managing director for TAN Media, who here examines the effectiveness of banner ads in today's online marketing industry, and why people don't trust banner ads and what is likely to replace them.
Rock argues that banner adverts are now a very ineffective way to drive traffic or boost online PR for any brand. In fact, the humble banner ad has become so unappealing to most internet users that it become "a symbol of all that's wrong with online advertising", according to Brian Morrissey in a post for Digiday.com.
Typically the banner ad is said to be lacking in creativity, and is highly intrusive, and is also ignored by an overwhelming majority of web users. However, despite all of these drawbacks, it mysteriously remains a mainstay of the internet - although many publishers are keen for the online marketing world to move away from the banner ad toward more fruitful and engaging options.
Those calling for its demise are citing a raft of data to back up their case. Statistics from ComScore suggest that 5.3 trillion display ads were served to US web users last year, which is a rise of 1 trillion from 2009. However, research from DoubleClick indicates that click-through rates for banner ads average only 0.1%. ComScore even estimated that around one in three (31%) ad impressions cannot be viewed by users.
And these click-through rates don't become any more impressive when viewed in the context of ComScore data which suggests that a die-hard 8% of users are responsible for 85% of those banner ad clicks. It was Solve Media that first went as far as to suggest that an individual is more likely to survive a plane crash than to intentionally click on a banner ad.
Research has been carried out by eMarketer into people's perceptions of banner ads, with the finding that 15% of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat, whereas the equivalent figure for TV ads is 29%. The same research suggests that around one in three people (34%) don't trust banner ads at all or much, compared to one in four (26%) for magazine ads.
But banner ads continue to be popular with a number of brands, as ComScore says that 445 different advertisers delivered more than a billion banner ads in 2012. Last year, Gawker, the media news and gossip blog, made a significant move away from traditional display ads and said it would work with its advertisers directly to create new content avenues. In an email to staff, the company's chief executive Nick Denton said: "We all know the conventional wisdom: the days of the banner advertisement are numbered. In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform."
So what is the answer? Deeper engagement in the form of content-based marketing and social media outreach is most likely to be the key to attracting online consumers in the future, concluded Rock.