But first the People demand cute dogs, or a woman looking straight at them, or distracting animation, or a fake Windows dialog box, or fake page content and no border, or the word ‘WIN’. (See Nielsen on banner blindness
.) The People also prefer elegant use of the banner space and will be displeased if you squeeze a landscape scene into a tall skinny ad.This lowbrow thinking is not always easy to reconcile with the “Big Idea” approach to web advertising*. But web ads are so ignorable that I suspect execution hooks are more important than given credit for, if they complement your message. (Of course one oughtn’t become completely unclassy about it – enough monkeys have been punched methinks.)
Anyway I tried to keep in mind the principle for some banners I made recently:
*sometimes also known as “Um Quick, Animate This Print Ad”.
Here is an expanded list of alluring things to put in your banners:
- life-sized insects
- directly address your copy to Steve. Sure, everyone else will be confused, but Steves will be mightily impressed. Click-through rates are terrible anyway.
- mouse cursors (OS detect please)
- apparently still photos of people that blink or scratch themselves occasionally
- someone doing a magic trick
- picture of iphone / ipad
- news headlines
- cool optical illusion
- poetry, just kidding
Those banners won an award. So my theories are right! All of them, not just the banner ones.