The banner ad has been around for almost two decades now, but it has little to show for itself. Not only is it unimaginative and intrusive, but most readers blithely ignore it. Industry experts agree: the banner ad symbolizes the very worst of what online advertising can offer.

It should come as no surprise, then, that numerous studies show that the banner ad is a dead end, a black hole with no redeeming features. Just look at some of the stats.

In 2012 alone, US users were served a staggering 5.3 trillion display ads, which represented an increase of one trillion since 2009. Each month, the typical Internet user is served a neat 1,707 banner advertisements, while the 25-34-year-old set sees 2,094 such ads in the same time period. You’d think that with such high numbers, banner ads would have a massive influence on potential consumers. But that’s an erroneous assumption.


The click-through rate of banner ads is a measly 0.1 percent, while the size 486 x 60 banner does one worse, with a click-through rate of 0.04 percent. As much as 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. Approximately 31 percent of ad impressions are not even visible to users. And how do you like these odds: you’re much more likely to survive a plane crash than to click on a banner ad.


Banner ads, a type of one-way marketing technique, are very ineffective in a market of consumers who are perpetually connected to each other. While banners do perform better than direct text messages from brands or companies, they are still very much at the bottom of the heap in terms of consumer trust and engagement. Social networking posts, emails from brands or companies, and search engine results (both sponsored and natural) are successively better than mere banner advertisements, or any kinds of ads on websites for that matter.

At the top of the list of what types of advertising/promotion consumers trust enough to act on are consumer-written online reviews, in third place; professionally written online reviews, in second; and recommendations from family and friends, in first place.

A study recently released by Infolinks shows also that the majority of consumers are ‘banner blind’, with banner ads not even registering in respondents’ field of vision when they browse the web. According to the study, a mere 14 percent of those polled could recall the last display ad they had seen and what it promoted. Only 2.8 percent of respondents considered the ad they had last seen relevant. While 35 percent of users click on online ads less than five times per month, half of users never click on them at all.

What these figures spell out is clear: the display advertising marketplace, to which the banner ad belongs, is broken. Consumer banner blindness is a growing problem, and banner ads may soon go the way of the dodo. Better to explore other, more organic marketing methods.