Mark Higginson

How attention flows on the web


03 July 2012

We do not click on display ads. We do not notice banners. The only ad medium on the web we use consistently is Google. But we are so swamped with hype about online advertising that we seem to have become blind to our own behavior.

Behavior Blindness

Those who sell display advertising refer to this format as though it’s relevant to everyone who uses the web – much like live broadcast television advertising is utterly unavoidable.

I firmly believe this format, despite being plastered everywhere, only appeals to a certain type of user who are by-and-large in the minority. Furthermore such advertising is only applicable to a very limited set of products and services.

The idea that a ‘hover’ is a more applicable measure of success than a click on an advert is questionable. The correlation is trivial in either case and while I see it is possible to generate revenue from this medium and to gain further incremental performance gains via better use of data, I wonder whether this area is ultimately a dead-end.

Danah Boyd is great on this in Who clicks on ads? And what might this mean? by considering who is responding and thus who is being targeted when 99% of web users do not click an ad within a monthly timeframe.

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