Quick Hit: $250B Lost? Brands Are Still Getting Online Ads Wrong

In his recent Forbes article “$250B Lost? Brands Are Still Getting Online Ads Wrong,” George John argues that brands lose billions of dollars every year because of the following:

  • Online ad spend lags consumer behavior by five years.
  • Brands act like the Internet is a printing press.
  • Agencies don’t know what their customers’ goals are.

I think this is an interest article that makes some great points. I would add one more item to his list: “Agencies create ads that people won’t look at due to banner blindness”

Too many companies and organizations still try to put important information in big, bright images as Jakob Nielsen points out in his article on Banner Blindness. As usability professionals and those of us who watch users on websites on a regular basis, it is clear how very little people notice banner ads. I can’t imagine the impact this has in ad spending; potential customers lost because of the 100 people who visited a web page, only 0.5 clicked your ad…and probably only 5-10 people, at most, saw it.

Some companies have made strides, though. E*trade, for example, consistently has a banner with 1 bold headline and 1 key call to action.









It’s noticeable and actionable. Also, notice howthe headline is right aligned on the ad so it is much closer to the login box where most repeat users eyes will be going. Very smart design. Google is also another great example. Simple blue links along the right side of each search results page.

I wonder how much more successful the online ad industry would be if people designed ads that worked?

About Scott

Scott Barnard is the founder of The Usability Review and RememberStuff.com. After earning 2 degrees from MIT, he transplanted to the San Francisco Bay Area where he had a front row seat to the dot com boom and bust and the subsequent growth in importance of web, mobile and desktop application designs to the everyday activities of businesses and consumers alike. Get in touch with Scott if you'd like to hire him to consult on web, mobile app, or desktop application design at sbarnard@theusabilityreview.com.
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