A growing portion of online advertising is purchased through DSPs and ad networks, and with literally millions of sites that sell ads through these channels, online advertisers cannot rely on knowing every site their ads are on.
With this has come a new wave of quality control issues for online advertisers. According to recent research from ComScore, 31% of banner ads don’t ever have the chance to be seen.
So how many banners really go unseen? Here is a summary of 2011 online advertising in the US, based on data from ComScore:
- 4.8 trillion online banner ads were served in 2011.
- The average person online in the US was served 19,000 banners in 2011.
- If 31% of banners are not seen, every person still sees more than 13,000 banners a year.
Do you really see more than 1,000 banners a month? More importantly, do your parents, older relatives and neighbors, who don’t spend as much time online as you?
I’m a heavy online user, and with pages like this one piled high with banners, my browser may load 19,000 banners a year. But even working in advertising, I rarely notice banners.
The real number of ads that is not seen is far higher than 31%. Banner blindness, or the tendancy for web visitors to scan a page around an ad without looking at the ad, is well documented. The image at the right shows the results of an eye tracking study and how the focus is on the content.
Every channel has similar issues. In television, ads have fewer viewers than programming, and ads in the middle of a commercial block have fewer viewers than ads at the beginning and end of the block. In print, an ad in the front third of a magazine is more likely to be seen than one in the back third.
Technology solutions, like the one ComScore’s research supports and similar offerings from firms like DoubleVerify, do not solve this problem. They are simply one more quality indicator and data point that may help explain results or behavior of media partners.
This is the reality marketers need to face: An advertising impression, across every channel, is simply an opportunity for someone to see your ad. It does not guarantee it was seen. Technology offerings are an aid, but they do not address the entire problem. It is up to you, as a marketer, to ensure your marketing and advertising is reaching and making an impact on your audience.
How many banners do you notice every month? Based on the banner creative that is predominant online, do believe banners on the page that you do not specifically notice have a meaningful subconscious impact on you? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).