Ad Blindness Rules: Even Fewer People Clicking Ads

from the bye-bye dept

We’ve been discussing why online advertising is often a bad idea for advertisers (not so much for many publishers, but that’s a different issue), as ad blindness rules the day. Now there’s even more evidence, as the already tiny clickthrough rate on online ads is dropping, rapidly. Basically, it sounds like more and more people are simply ignoring online ads, which is to be expected, since they rarely (if ever?) add much of value. This is the advertisers’ fault. There are lots of ways that advertisers could actually add value for consumers/readers/users online — but they’re all so scared to death of actually taking that step. Instead, many are so focused on obsolete metrics like the CPM, that they’re unable or unwilling to really branch out and try marketing and advertising programs that actually are effective. Simply tossing up more ad banners isn’t doing the trick. Really engaging with users would help, but most brands still haven’t figured out quite how to do that, even if it isn’t particularly complex.

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Comments on “Ad Blindness Rules: Even Fewer People Clicking Ads”

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Robert Ring (profile) says:

Ads can add value in some cases. Chris Anderson notes in “Free” that he polled visitors to his blog (on high-tech model airplanes or something of the sort) whether they would rather him take away the ads. Most of them said No, since the ads that pop up in his site are for products that are generally difficult to find.

As far as brands not figuring out how to use internet ads/banners effectively, that’s true, but at the same time you have to give them a little credit. You have to be really creative to come up with engaging content for such a small area of on-screen real estate.

TattoozNTech (profile) says:


well i’m not involved with the ad world or anything related, but from the consumer’s perspective, i use firefox which blocks nearly all ads on websites, including this one which is (for me anyway) a serene, blissfully clean page with a decent article, the site header, comments, and nothing else. maybe this should have been also mentioned as having some kind of effect on online advertising.

lordmorgul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Wow, how silly are you! Lets review a little basic logic. If ads give me very little money at zero cost, then the money they give me is reduced but still above zero and has zero cost… I will still have no reason to remove them. You do not remove a revenue stream because it is less profitable, you only do so when it is not profitable. Pulling google ads is free.

Tattoo Ad Man says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Wow, how silly are you! Lets review a little basic logic. If ads give me very little money at zero cost, then the money they give me is reduced but still above zero and has zero cost… I will still have no reason to remove them. You do not remove a revenue stream because it is less profitable, you only do so when it is not profitable. Pulling google ads is free.

Wow, have I got a deal for you! I’ll give you $1 per month for the next 10 years to wear my advertising. The ad will be in the form of a tattoo, on your forehead. Now, I’ll pay for the tattoo so the cost will be zero to you. Heck, I’ll even send the tattooist to your home so you don’t have to go anywhere! The ad will give you “very little money at zero cost”, so you will “have no reason to remove it”. Surely you wouldn’t refuse “a revenue stream because it is less profitable”. Ready to get started?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Yes, it is my feelings. So, what’s your point? That the only “costs” that matter are monetary ones? If that’s your point, then you’re simply incorrect even by the most mainstream of economic thinking.

Not really. Where did you study economics anyway, The University of Boo-Hoo?

Tell ya what, the next someone hurts your feelings at work (that is, if you work), try claiming the “loss” as an expense your tax return. I think the IRS will probably explain the difference to you much better than I ever could.

Robert Ring (profile) says:

Re: [TDR]

Yes, that’s right.

Also, as far as ad blockers go, I don’t have any hard numbers (or any numbers whatsoever), but I doubt a high percentage of people use them. Furthermore, I decided that, though I ignore 99.99% of all ads, eventually there is one that catches my eye that I actually click on.

Either way, I don’t see it being a big deal. Ads aren’t all that profitable anyway. The best way to make money is to actually charge for something.

Robert Ring (profile) says:

Re: Re: [TDR]

…Also, there’s what Anonymous Coward said just below me: The people using adblockers aren’t going to click ads anyway. Although I have to think Adsense would be _slightly_ more profitable if the adblockers weren’t used (you’d think maybe one in a million times those same users might happen to see an ad that catches their attention), but it wouldn’t be enough to make any difference.

misterdoug (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It depends on what you mean by “profitable.” The ad-based website might not be a great business model, but you can definitely make a non-zero amount of cash with ads. On my personal website I have a lot photos of a big house remodel, which I haven’t updated significantly in several years. With minimal Google ads it steadily pulls in about $50/month, which pays for my broadband access. Not exactly a business plan but I’d call it a win.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nah, you can blame ad blocking software if you want, but anyone who’s using browser add-ons to block the ads isn’t someone who’d have been clicking through, using, or even paying attention to them anyway.

Fact is, the ads usually aren’t particularly good or useful. Worse, since they make use of words that show up in the text of the sites and are chosen by software, they often end up advertising something to which the content of the site itself is being critical. In any case, they’re seen as intrusive/nuisances more often than as something helpful, and they require a lot of creepy activity tracking for targeted delivery. Even if those things worked/were welcome by readers, there’d still have to be a product or service of value being sold.

Nathania Johnson (user link) says:

There’s plenty of data that shows that display ads drive people to search and boosts the effectiveness of search ads.

Additionally, click through rates (CTR) are not the best indication of growth or lack thereof. It’s conversion rates, revenues, etc that really matter.

Google’s search ads CTR is declining, but their ROI is soaring. I seriously doubt you’d say that Google is in trouble.

Shane C says:

Passive advertisements

I’ve been saying it for years. Most every other form of advertisement out there is passive. Nobody expects someone to try to act immediately on a TV ad (with the exception of some late night advertisers). Instead, they continuously remind you of something that you might want to purchase tomorrow at lunch/the next time you buy a car/some indefinite amount of time in the future.

So why is it that advertisers expect web viewers to break out of their standing agreement, and “click” on their ad? Interactive, or engaging it doesn’t matter. Even if I’m totally fascinated by their special ad, if I’m in a hurry, I’m not going to click on it.

If you make it memorable, I’ll remember it. But I won’t click on it. {sigh}

John Marbach (user link) says:

Advertising Pricing Models

I agree when you mention that the CPM pricing model is obsolete. Advertisers are not put in a position to be able to effectively engage their audience when ads are simply plastered among a network of sites. To test the true effectiveness of an ad (whether or not it is driving more sales) is best done through the CPA pricing model. Advertisers will then have the leverage to pay only for the results that they see, and analyze which ads are driving the most conversions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Advertising Pricing Models

The problem with CPA advertising is that the goals of the advertiser and the goals of the site no longer match.

The site’s goal is to aggregate eyeballs. The advertisers site is to make the most sales for the least clicks.

It’s why you see ads on google that might specifically list the price points in the ad. They only want people who are paying to click.

It sort of defeats the purpose.

Anonymous Coward says:

I spend more time avoiding ads then if I actually just watched them. They are intrusive and an invasion of my CPU and memory resources.

– AD Blockers
– Disabling Adobe Flash will cut down alot of ads at the expense of some site features not working.
– moving the screen so that I can see when the video ad ends but not the ad itself so I can pull the screen back to viewable for the content I was looking for

Ads suck, plain and simple!

A man says:

I like ads

But I hate advertisers.

Ads these days are a bunch of wasted money by stupid advertisers thinking their investment is seeing a return. But, sometimes ads stop the premium payments of sites. So I like that.

Unfortunately I have NoScript and ABP and never see any ads, ever. But both of those operate via domain blacklisting, and if advertisers got their acts together and dropped out cookies and privacy invasion from advertisements and just make their ads:

1. A clean, gimmick-less ad
2. Seriously, a shenanigans free ad
3. An ad that actually describes an actual product accurately
4. Includes a link to that product, a clean link, without 30 forwarding sites each with their own privacy invasions and tracking cookies

If they can do all that, I honestly don’t give a fuck if every ad I see from now on is for Vagisil or training wheels on bikes, I would definitely whitelist any advertisement domain that cut the bull shit and gladly view and maybe even click their worthless ads just for shits and giggles and to fuck with their heads and make them think their money isn’t wasted.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Real Trick

Simply tossing up more ad banners isn’t doing the trick.

No, what you need to do is to figure out how to get those ads more up in people’s faces. That way they have have to pay attention to them. JavaScript and other active content ads that block the content until you interact with them are also useful, especially if you make the content unavailable to browsers with script blocking. Lots of bright flashing animated graphics helps to get attention too. Finally, you need to find ways around ad blockers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The Real Trick

Exactly! Because after you’ve driven away all your readers, you won’t have to worry about the effectiveness of your advertising anymore!

Those lame leeches weren’t going to buy anything anyway. Legitimate readers realize that ads are an important and valuable part of the online experience.

Kevin (profile) says:

Cut the gimmicks

I have to agree with “A Man”: get rid of the gimmicky ads.
I will absolutely NOT watch an ad that instantly starts video (sans audio) and asks me to click it to get the sound.
Nor will I patronize any brand that uses the ads that expand if you happen to mouse over them and then you have click “close” to get them to go away.
I will never buy anything from someone that uses a floating window above the content I wanted to read and makes me click “close.”
I won’t use any service (Netflix or otherwise) that manages to open an ad window behind my browser window, especially if they did it by going around my popup blocker.
Advertisers need to be content with us just SEEING their ads. Quit trying to force us to watch videos or have to close windows/floaters/etc. to get to our content. Frankly, it puts me off of a site if I know they use that sort of advertising.

MeGere says:

I just started to block ads when they started to get intrusive and annoying. Besides being filled with adware and spyware …

I use noscript + adblockplus and rip addons for firefox and improved my browsing a lot on last couple years.

I wouldnt mind a few ads on webs, i even liked it if they were somehow usefull, but mostly are stupid sh!t about ringtones, msn smiles and other crap full of spyware … fck it …

I even dont install flash on firefox because it avoids me much crap … when i want to see any flash related stuff i go to a session of IE.

Once again blame theirselves …

Even with then unblocked when i use other pcs than mines, i just ignore the ads … so they are not loosing much with me …

Ron says:

Millions of people play video games and I never see advertising in these games. Maps in games could have billboards with ads on them. Weapons in games could have ads on them. There is plenty of opportunity out there, company’s need to think outside of the tools that are offered to them on the web!!! I run game servers at a very small profit, I would love their advertising money!

Lee (user link) says:

Ad blindness answer

Ad blindness is making things tough for us affiliates. We had serious problems getting conversions off our blogs. We were getting a lot of hits but no conversions. I did a lot of research and finally think I found an answer. It looks like another company created a WordPress plugin that fixes this issue. Well sort of. They hide the ads behind links. When the reader clicks on a link, the ad slides out. Check out their video on their site. It illustrates it great.
Good luck

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