Eye-tracking evidence of banner blindness

21 Feb 2005 - 8:27am
9 years ago
3 replies
1599 reads
Mike Baxter
2004

I'm trying to pull together some usability guidelines for e-commerce sites
and want to refer to banner blindness. I'd prefer to show it rather than
describe it and I was wondering if anyone had seen/got any images of
eye-tracking research showing how users ignore banners (or banner-like
visuals). A heat-map such as the one Julie described in an earlier post
would be ideal (http://blog.eyetools.net).

Cheers

Mike

Comments

21 Feb 2005 - 8:44am
Rebecca Grier
2005

Mike,

My dissertation, "Visual Attention and Web Design" used an eye-tracker
to show that people look where they expect to find things on web pages.
Thus for the majority of things people look for, they look in the main
body of the page (not headers, footers, navigation, banners, etc...). I
have not published the research yet, but can provide more specifics
offline.

Sincerely,
Rebecca
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Rebecca Grier, Ph.D.
Human Systems Engineer
Aptima, Inc.

21 Feb 2005 - 1:27pm
Jonathan Grubb
2004

Hi Mike.

I'm sure you'll be able to find something to support
your banner blindness assertion, but you may also want
to prepare for the opposing argument that banner ads
make tons of money. If users are actually blind to
banner ads, why do they keep clicking on them at such
high levels? Why is brand advertising such a huge
industry?

Users will almost always say they they don't look at
banner ads (or watch TV ads, or read billboards) but
the fact is that users will tolerate a certain amount
of interruption to use a valuable service for free. I
hate banner ads as much as the next guy, but they do
pay the bills.

This brings up a variation on the old "cost
justification of usability" question: what do you do
when your findings disagree with what the money says?
I can say "users don't look at banner ads" and my ad
sales person might reply "but we made x million
dollars on banner ads last year." Where do we go from
there?

--
jonathan

--- Mike Baxter <mike at saleslogiq.com> wrote:

> I'm trying to pull together some usability
> guidelines for e-commerce sites
> and want to refer to banner blindness.

21 Feb 2005 - 3:31pm
Mike Baxter
2004

Hi Jonathan
>> but you may also want to prepare for the opposing argument that banner
ads make tons of money.
Good point - but the point I am trying to make is not one of total
blindness, only partial blindness!
If you look at the original Banner-blindness research (at
http://www.internettg.org/newsletter/dec98/banner_blindness.html ) the
authors reported that users found relevant information in a 'Banner-like
graphic' 58% of the time. By contrast 94% of users found the information
when it was embedded in text-links - where they would probably have expected
it to be.
So, do banner ads work? They are only seen half the time and only clicked a
fraction of one percent of the time. But when the variable cost of
presenting a banner ad is close to zero, they are still a big and highly
profitable business.
Mike

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