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Inbound Marketing Blog

    5 Invisible Forms of Online Advertising

    Posted by Michael Dooley

    Display Ads That Visitors Ignore

    As the Internet expands and evolves, marketers gain more ways to reach their audience. However, the audience is also evolving and their ability to recognize and ignore advertisements develops.  People generally don’t like to be sold to, and when they see the same type of advertisement too often it becomes annoying to them. Many of the standard practices for online display ads have become outdated because people are too familiar with where ads are and what they look like. Below are some of the types of ads Internet users have now become trained to ignore.

    Tall Banners

    These ads show up on the sidebars of websites and are generally ignored by any experienced Internet user. The rare exception where these tall banners become effective is if they are specifically designed to blend and match with the rest of the page’s content. But the majority of the time these ads stand alone as single offers on the side of the page in an area where eyes divert away. Many websites have abandoned advertising in this sidebar area, either extending their content all the way across the page or leaving the sidebar space open or filled with background design.

    Top and Bottom Banners

    The top of the page and bottom of a page are the two most commonly used placements for full banner display ads. Nearly every website has banners in these locations, which makes skipping over these ads an easy habit to develop. These ads also can be made effective with page-specific design that blends the banner into the content. But generally these banners will stand out clearly to visitors and they will know instantly in their minds “this is an advertisement, ignore it.”

    Top Right Below The Navigation

    Another ad placement that has been over used is top right area of the content below the navigation bar. Because of how often ads are placed in this location, it’s a very easy one to scan by without noticing. The same ad could be more inviting or noticeable simply by moving it to another location on the page. This ad placement and others have become standard practice, but as Internet users evolve and change how they use the Internet, these practices can become very outdated.

    Anything “Sponsored”

    When the word “sponsored” appears above or around an online ad, page visitors steer clear for the most part. These trend also appears with Google searches, as users are more likely to select one of the top organic search results over a sponsored Google result.


    How many times have you seen an online ad that tells you that you’ve won something? Or that you are the “one millionth visitor” and can “get a free iPad” just by clicking? These ads are becoming a thing of the past (fortunately) but still hang around and bother people every now and then. But the point here is that people are trained to ignore these ads now and marketers should consider that in their ad strategy. Banners and display ads that offer contests or coupon codes are really just an updated version of the spam ads of old. There may be more truth behind an ad offering a free pizza than one offering a million dollars, but it remains clear to the visitor that it is an advertisement, which can have negative connotations.

    Marketers need to be careful not to become set in a single way of doing things with their display ads and remember to think of how a visitor views a page. This means trying new things and testing new strategies, otherwise your ads can become invisible to the user.

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    image credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

    Topics: Inbound Marketing