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Graphical banner ads have become the panhandlers of the Internet: very few people look at them anymore even if ads are right in front of them.

Text advertising still gets attention, as evidenced by ClickZ’s reference to a Nielsen Norman Group study on the topic. (Nielsen as in usability guru Jakob Nielsen, not the ratings service Google has on schedule to crush in the future.) Graphical ads haven’t been noticed nearly as well.

Google’s twelve-digit market capitalization may have been a hint too. Or the popularity of the Adblock extension in Firefox. Or Opera’s new content blocker.

Internet users have been focusing more on the content and less on the ads, if at all. Banner ads get no love from those users. ClickZ cited Nielsen Norman Group research director Kara Pernice Coyne, who said text and contrasting colors in a graphical ad kept simple is less likely to be disregarded.

The Internet Advertising Bureau dismissed the study out of hand:

“There literally have been thousands of studies now on online advertising’s effectiveness,” said IAB President Greg Stuart. “All the evidence is in: smoking kills, online advertising works. There is no more information to be had. We can deny the information, but that’s all it is: denial.”


Stuart also cited the cost effectiveness of online advertising. He didn’t mention another aspect of it that give online ads an edge over their big media commercial counterparts; online advertising can be measured to see just how effective it is for the marketer.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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  • http://www.thickgeek.com Matt

    I believe there is a category of less savvy people and older people who are still attracted by colored banners and will never hear of ad blockers.