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Text Advertising Blindness: The New Banner Blindness?

Justin W. Owens, Barbara S. Chaparro, and Evan M. Palmer

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 6, Issue 3, May 2011, pp. 172 - 197

Abstract

Banner blindness, the phenomenon of website users actively ignoring web banners, was first reported in the late 1990s. This study expands the banner blindness concept to text advertising blindness and examines the effects of search type and advertisement location on the degree of blindness. Performance and eye-tracking analyses show that users tend to miss information in text ads on the right side of the page more often than in text ads at the top of the page. Search type (exact or semantic) was also found to affect performance and eye-tracking measures. Participant search strategies differed depending on search type and whether the top area of the page was perceived to be advertising or relevant content. These results show that text ad blindness occurs, significantly affects search performance on web pages, and is more prevalent on the right side of the page than the top.

Practitioner’s Take Away

The findings in this study suggest that users experience text advertising blindness. Users were less successful, reported more task difficulty, and took longer to find information when it was embedded in text advertisements positioned at the top and the right side of the page.

Practitioners should realize the following about text advertisements:

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Text Advertising Blindness: The New Banner Blindness?