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Should Banner Advertising be put to Rest?

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Banner ads eh? Do you love them or hate them? We can guess on a scale of 1 to 'get off my screen' you will most likely gravitate to the latter, right? Whilst banners can be beautiful they can also be very intrusive and annoying especially those pop ups! Nothing is worse than to have your user experience hi-jacked by ads that freeze your screen, obscure what you are trying to see or hover around. This sort of disruptive marketing has lead to a massive increase in the purchase of pop-up ad blockers. Econsultancy already reported on this back in 2015 by quoting stats compiled by PageFair that really put into perspective just how fast the ad blocking market was growing then, with the global use of ad blockers being up by 41% (to 198m) between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015. Last year Business Insider quoted Emarketer's stats that 30% of all Internet users will ad block by 2018. Research conducted by Statista found that ad blocking in the US had grown from 15.4% in 2014 to 30.1% in 2018 whilst the UK had one of the highest rates of adblocking reps worldwide, with over a third (39%) of page views blocking ads, resulting in a loss of more than £2.9bn in publisher revenue in 2017, according to report by

Fast forward to 2018 and this trend appears massively on the rise. Marketers seem to have lost sight of the user-experience and the populous is revolting. And rightly so. No one likes to be interrupted and whilst your banner ads can be pretty, online users have become more desensitised than ever with click-through rates at an all-time low.

What's the problem?

The earliest form of banner advertising is the humble banner ad which has been around for the best part of 25 years. The problem outlined by Rebecca Sentance from ClickZ is that marketers no longer rely on display advertising to drive direct ROI, and there is a growing perception that display advertising in general is lost on users, who are so used to it as to be ‘blind’ to its messaging therefore the banner ad as a form of display advertising seems to be on its way out. She goes on to say that whilst advertisers are still spending a significant amount on banner advertising, in a research piece called 'The State of Digital Advertising 2017' conducted by ClickZ, display advertising was by far the advertising channel perceived to perform most poorly by marketers.

Janice Chan for Marketing Interactive highlights a 2017 study conducted by Kantar Millward Brown titled “Getting Media Right”, which surveyed 330 leaders from advertisers, agencies and media companies worldwide.

"Viewability, however, one of the metrics integral to media buying and measuring the effectiveness of an ad on various channels, was listed in the study as the top tactical challenge marketers encounter in the media and digital space."

Also Sentance highlights that display advertising on mobile devices was the worst performing channel of them all. It's 2018 and marketers often forget that the majority of viewing now happens on a mobile device. Bannerflow explain that your beautiful display ad often made for desktop first, is more likely to be viewed on mobile in 2018. According to eMarketer research mobile display ads are now outpacing desktop by quite some measure. 70.3% of all display ads in the US are mobile, compared to 29.7% for desktop.

Michael Brenner from the Marketing Insider Group put together a cracking article with the hilarious title 'Banner Ads Have 99 Problems And A Click Ain’t One' in which he picks apart the current state of banner advertising as well as citing many online stats and surveys conducted by multiple news and agency outlets. He argues that banner ads don''t deliver real results and more targeted approaches such as content marketing are much better. Therefore simply investing such a large amount of your advertising on passive display ads based on assumptions on customer actions or simply just a billboard are not having the desired effect or are delivering the results we as marketers want.

Programmatic & Retargeting the Future?

Programmatic advertising allows advertisers to purchase ad space much more cheaply and easily, often in real-time (using methods such as Real-Time Bidding), enabling them to target it at specific users whereas behavioural retargeting or remarketing, meanwhile, targets online advertising at consumers based on their previous internet actions, also allowing for a much more personalised ad experience.

Both of these methods sound like a vast improvement on the old technique according to Sentance and the prospect for consumers and advertisers certainly sound more appealing, right? Who wouldn't want to see ads that are actually relevant to their interests, be it content or product based. What does this mean? A less disruptive online user experience for the customer and a more targeted better ROI and financially viable advertising avenue for the marketer.

The use of AI

We have spoken previously about the use of Artificial Intelligence in online marketing and how the ability to deliver more targeted ads is better for everyone. The use of AI in this instance is even more compelling as the AI will not only test and evaluate the performance of adverts being delivered it will also score them based on interactions and change its marketing delivery strategy accordingly and in real time.

The benefits? It learns what works and what doesn't and does more of the things that work. As it learns it finds more look-a-like customers in engaging ad and media environments and almost creates clusters of engagement in these spaces, which in turn should convert into happy customers and higher click-through rates meaning a much better ROI. It's also a time saver as programmes can cipher though thousands of algorithms and outcomes quickly, much faster than any human brain. Therefore instead of a marketing team having to evaluate reams of results from their online ad campaigns, the AI does it for them whilst the team simply manages the delivery and monitors the results.


Don't panic. AI doesn't mean robots are taking over the world or your digital experience but more so can deliver a better online experience for the user and advertiser in turn. Banner ads in the traditional sense have certainly fallen out of favour and audiences are just desensitised by the sheer volume of visual noise that is thrown at them. Delivering intelligent, creative and targeted ads into a space that doesn't interrupt and matches your customer is the key and the future.

Make sense? Then why not give us a call to see how we can propel your ads to the right audience using AI with adalytix. US: +1 (302) 763 3740. UK: 0800 368 7658.

#ai #artificialintelligence #programmaticadvertising #onlineadvertising #displayadvertising #bannerads #onlinemarketing #digitalmarketing #adalytix

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