The term banner blindness (also ad blindness) is used when visitors to a website do not perceive banner ads or other elements and content that they perceive as advertisements. Ads can be found almost anywhere on the internet. They traditionally have standard sizes and are placed in specific places on the website.

At first, web users deliberately try to ignore any form of ads as they find them either irrelevant, useless, misleading or just annoying. However, after some websites with similar advertisements, the human brain is already conditioned so that everything that looks like advertising is unconsciously ignored. This habituation effect means that users also ignore informative, useful content if it happens to resemble ads. This resemblance can be either due to similar formatting and graphic design, or linguistic traits (remember clickbait?).

The rise of banner blindness

The early ad banners in the history of the Internet were very successful because at that time there were only a few websites and in the minds of the users there was no automatic processing of the content. Thus, the first banner ad in the history of the Internet has a CTR (click-through rate) as high as 44 percent.

Nowadays, a click-through rate of 0.05 percent is already considered a good result. Banner blindness is evidently a widespread “affliction” that, according to a study carried out 5 years ago, affected 86 percent of global Internet users.

The cure

There are many ways for publishers as well as advertisers to counteract banner blindness. Essentially, it all comes down to avoiding any visual or stylistic resemblance between the content of a website that would actually be of interest to visitors and advertising.

Advertisers are very aware of that, so they came up with creative ways of masking advertising as content which subsequently led to modern-day content blindness. A domino effect.

The only way how publishers, advertisers and B2C businesses today can gain the attention of online users in an Internet, so cluttered with junk content, clickbait and sneaky ads, is to dramatically change the way they communicate and interact with the public.

Be relevant, useful and adjust your message to the recipient

With this challenge in mind, a team of experts in the fields of digital media, marketing, computer programming, artificial intelligence, and big data analysis designed a smart solution that could radically change the way we use the Internet.

The digital platform they created, called BehaviourExchange, automatically adjusts the content of websites to each visitors ‘profile’. The way the BehaviourExchange system creates these profiles is understandably complex. Not only does it rely on state of the art technology such as advanced profiling algorithms, machine learning, and analytic expertise, but also on its ethical premise to create a democratic Internet, tailored to each user.

User profiles for content personalization

The BehaviourExchange profiles follow the strict GDPR data protection guidelines and are created at the request of the web users who also store them on their personal computers. Profile owners stay in control of their data and can at any time decide not to reveal the profile to the system.

Profiles consist of an intricate collection of demographic, psychosocial, behavioral information, ranging from age, gender and profession to users interests, needs and wishes. They serve as some sort of identification that enables websites to adjust their content to each visitor the moment they enter the site. For regular web users, this simply means less irrelevant junk content and more of what they are actually interested. For publishers, BehaviourExchange presents a new way of connecting with their visitors on an almost personal level.

Advertisers and B2C businesses can use this platform to reach their customers and present products and services they actually need and want. This eliminates the need for advertising trickery, intrusiveness, and deception while at the same time dramatically reduces advertising costs and boosts efficiency. A win-win solution, waiting to change the online world.