Banner ads — those ubiquitous rectangular advertisements that typically span the headings of Web pages — were once the bread and butter of online promotions. But as users learned how to ignore banner ads, they’ve been replaced by text-based advertisements such as Google Ads or flashy multimedia promotions.
A 2011 study from the University of Toronto and MIT Sloan School of Management published in Marketing Science, “Online Display Advertising: Targeting and Obtrusiveness,” explores the effectiveness of these strategies. Researchers tracked the reception of ads on 2,892 individual websites; half of the participants viewed a website with a specific ad, and the other half viewed the same website without the ad. The scholars note that, in 2009, the online display ad business — highly visual, “obtrusive” campaign ads such as pop-up ads, interactive and/or multimedia ads — constituted nearly half of all online campaigns and generated an estimated $11.2 billion in earnings; Google’s contextual AdSense campaign, seen by approximately three-quarters of all Internet users in the United States, generated $6 billion in revenue for the company in the same year.
Study findings include:
The researchers highlight the economic and policy implications of their findings: “There is mounting pressure in the United States and Europe to regulate the use of data on browsing behavior to target advertising.” Regulators, they suggest, need to acknowledge that changes to data collection practices may influence the types of online advertisements. Indeed, more stringent controls on targeting may result in deeper investments in highly intrusive ads. “Customers may dislike having data collected about their browsing behavior,” the authors conclude, “but they have also expressed dislike of highly visible ads.”
Tags: consumer affairs, technology, privacy