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Marketing 11 min read February 18, 2020

People Hate Ads: How Marketers Can Address This Problem

Jonas Olausson
Founder of Joinative
Have you ever tried to reach your target audience with banner ads? Or maybe you're just looking into this opportunity? Anyway, you should know that people hate ads. Still, it's not over yet. To address the problem, let's figure out how it all started and what you can do about it.
Online display advertising has been among the leading marketing techniques for over 20 years. One of the first banner ads displayed by Wired Magazine in 1994 registered click-through rates of 44%, paying off the investment of $30,000 for its placement.

Can you even imagine reaching such a result today? With an average CTR of 0.34%, banner ads are no longer as effective as they were 26 years ago. While achieving 1994 numbers would require a real miracle, you can still improve your online advertising performance significantly. But before you find out how to make people pay attention to your ads, let's check out some mind-blowing statistics.

Display ads: statistics

The marketing world is changing and so are our strategies. The recent research results will help you understand how your audience is viewing paid advertisements today and why you should think of changing your approach.
47% of internet users globally use an ad-blocker today (Digital Information World)
81% of users admitted they exited a website after seeing a pop-up ad (HubSpot)
More than 70% of advertisers claimed they believed their banner ads were relevant to people they are targeting. Only 8% of these people think ads they see online are relevant to them (Adobe Digital Insights)
82% of people said that they had closed a web page because of an autoplaying video ad (HubSpot)
47% of users changed their media habits to see less advertising, and 39% have found ways of avoiding almost all ads (eMarketer)
34% of respondents clicked on ads by mistake so that the actual number of clicks from people being interested in your ad is much lower (HubSpot)
Display advertising statistics don't seem to be promising at all, do they? Keep calm, here are some facts that will inspire you to revisit your strategy and keep your audience in mind:
60% of consumers click on mobile ads at least weekly (Business Wire)
57% of U.S. consumers revealed that they would prefer to filter ads than to block all of them (Marketing Dive)
68% of respondents said they were fine with seeing ads when they're not annoying (HubSpot)
Well-crafted and quality display ads can not only be non-intrusive but also useful for your target audience if… you manage to avoid banner blindness.

What's banner blindness?

Here's how Crazy Egg puts it:
A term used in online advertising to describe the ineffectiveness of banner advertisements due to their oversaturation and lack of intent-based messaging.
Simply put, banner blindness takes place when you pay no attention to ads displayed on the website. To eliminate distractions, we got used to ignoring specific parts of the web page, focusing on one narrow path.

Elements found in the sidebar are affected by banner blindness most often.

How to avoid banner blindness?

After the question of how not to irritate users with your ads comes another one – how to make your ads noticed.

Some marketers would opt for more effective and long-lasting marketing techniques, including content marketing, SEO, and email marketing, instead of struggling to find the perfect advertising formula. However, it's comparing apples to oranges. Content marketing can't be an alternative to online advertising as well as SEO can't be replaced by social media marketing.

Brands keep increasing their display advertising budgets, and for good reason – it's still one of the most effective ways to deliver significant results fast. That's why it certainly makes sense to make an effort and develop a better display advertising strategy. Go beyond traditional banner ads, leverage technologies, consider user experience – and you'll see how beneficial online advertising can be when done right.

Adjust size and placing

First and foremost, if you decide to keep using traditional banner ads, you need to pay specific attention to the location where your ad appears. Place your ads near the primary content to make your ads more visible.

Remember that users scan the page from the top left side to the right side. That's why leaderboard banners at the top of the page usually perform better than other types of ads.

Next, make sure that you leverage the most effective ad size and shape. You can either test what works for you the best or trust the statistics. According to Google, there are 5 top-performing ad sizes:

  1. Medium rectangle – 300 x 250
  2. Large rectangle – 336 x 280
  3. Large mobile banner – 320 x 100
  4. Leaderboard – 728 x 90
  5. Half page – 300 x 600

Test ad placements

The statistics have shown that most people hate ads because they're irrelevant. The right placement will help you address the issue and reach the relevant audience.

What's an ad placement?

An ad placement is a group of websites, a separate website, or a group of web pages advertisers can target with their ads. Google Display Ad Network provides different targeting options, including Placement targeting, allowing advertisers to specify the websites or pages where your ads will be placed.

Managing ad placements, you can select the most relevant websites for your product or service category. For instance, if you offer ski wear, you might want your ads to appear on travel agency websites.

Consider the customer's journey

After you select the right ad placement, consider the user journey of every specific website and how your ad can provide value for its visitors.

What does a visitor of this or another page know about the subject? A better understanding of the customer's journey will help you create more targeted ad campaigns. Your approach to reaching people that read about the top winter destinations should be different from reaching those who have already bought the tour.

Consider creating different ads and landing pages around particular web pages and evaluate their performance compared to a broader targeting. If your ads complement the content of this particular page, they will not only be less intrusive but also extremely useful.

Leverage native advertising

Native advertising has already proved to be a powerful alternative to traditional banner ads. According to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of respondents prefer to learn about products or services through content rather than traditional advertising.

What's native advertising?

It's an online marketing method that involves using paid ads that fit into the publisher's website content seamlessly, matching the look of it.

There are different types of native ads, with paid search ads and social media ads often being included in this category. When we talk about native ads, we refer to content recommendation widgets that can be found on thousands of websites near the primary content. Whenever you see 'Sponsored content' or 'You may also like' units on your favorite blog, you see native ads.
Having a softer selling approach and not looking like traditional pushy ads, native advertisements produce almost 8x higher CTR than banner ads.

One of the most important steps before you launch your first campaign is selecting the right native ad network. Different platforms offer different targeting options, traffic quality, the size of audiences, ad types, and more.

To run successful native ad campaigns, you can either leverage your display advertising experience and do it in-house or just hire a native advertising agency.

Participate in affiliate programs

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing method where one business promotes a product or service of another one, receiving payment for each sale it makes.

Collaboration is never a bad idea. Use affiliate programs to partner with other companies that share the same audience. You don't even need to launch your ads via Google Display Ad Network if you find the relevant website that doesn't have lots of ads but only displays yours. Moreover, affiliate marketing can be incredibly cost-effective, as you only pay per actual conversions.

Establish your own affiliate program to scale this strategy and get even better results. This step will drive exceptional benefits to your brand and its affiliates.

By the way, Serpstat already enjoys affiliate marketing advantages. Check out Serpstat Affiliate Program to see how you can earn money by telling about your favorite SEO tool.
Serpstat Affiliate Program: How Does It Work?


Being a marketer or a business owner, you're in a constant search for the best advertising strategies to catch your audience's attention. Being an internet user yourself, you do everything possible to avoid ads that keep chasing you everywhere and can hardly remember the last banner ad you've seen. Seeing the problem from both angles and leveraging the above-mentioned practices should help you develop better campaigns. Keep on testing, and you'll find the techniques that work best for your niche.

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