Banner Blindness

Banner blindness refers to a phenomenon in which website users consciously or unconsciously do not perceive advertising banners. The term is based on a scientific study by Benway and Lane in 1998.

The development of the term banner blindness[edit]

The term “banner blindness” was used for the first time in 1998, when two scientists were able to demonstrate in real tests that users ignore banners consciously or unconsciously. In order to demonstrate this fact, the subjects were given the task of looking for information on a specific topic on a website. Test groups had the option of clicking on an additional link in the form of a banner, as well as internal links.

Another result of the study was that the position of banners and their design did not necessarily contribute to click success. Many advertising professionals have been aware that advertising banners are perceived differently. However, with the study by Lane and Benway, the phenomenon of banner blindness was given a scientifically sound meaning for the first time.

The discussion about the phenomenon of banner blindness continues today. Different research approaches also take into account the user’s intention when surfing the web. According to some researchers, there is a distinction between users who are looking for information and users who are on the Internet as a pastime.

According to the tests, the latter are more willing to receive information from banners, whereby information seekers are already focused on their subject at the beginning of the Internet search and thus ignore additional information which is comparable to skimming when reading.[1]


Today, media scientists and advertising psychologists have many different test options at their disposal. One of these techniques is the heatmap. The heatmap shows which areas of a website receive special attention by users. To measure this, the eye movements as well as the orientation of the head are observed when the test person views a webpage. Another test method is “eye tracking,” which shows the concentration of eye movements when web content is viewed. In this case, the length of time a certain portion of a page gets looked at is measured.

Relevance to online marketing[edit]

Banner blindness is an important phenomenon in user behavior that advertisers must take into account when planning media campaigns on the Internet. Other particular forms, such as layer ads or in-text advertising, or tooltips have developed in recent years. The goal is always to get the greatest possible user attention. However, banner ads are declining as an advertising form because ad-blockers are increasingly utilized among internet users. Banner ads and similar have therefore lost respectability due to manipulative techniques such as cookie dropping.


  1. Comprehensive study by Nielsen about Banner Blindness. Nielsen. Accessed on November 07, 2013.