Banner blindness has been a web user behaviour for a very long time – essentially, it describes people’s tendency to ignore page elements that they believe to be ads. This perception might be correct or incorrect, but this perception exists. Even when as webpage patterns have evolved, banner blindness is still prevalent.
Largely, it is an instance of selective attention as people only tend to direct their attention to only things which are a subset of the stimuli in the environment. This is owing to the fact that owing to the facTagst that we are engulfed with an enormous inflow of sounds and patterns and hence, we behave rather sporadically.
On the web, UI elements and different pieces of content are all designed to arrest the attention of a user. In order to complete their tasks efficiently, people pay attention to elements that they believe are helpful for them (for instance, the search boxes, subheadings and navigation bars). They tend to ignore those elements that do not have any information and ads are the most prominent member of this last category. Hence it leads to banner blindness.
Here are a few content elements that do resemble ad-like characteristics and are hence, ignored. Here are a few characteristics of an ad:
- Ad-specific placement, that includes top of the page or the right side of the page
- Ad-like visual treatment that includes animation
- Proximity to promotions or actual ads