Display ad problems

Regular readers will know I think there are problems with the display ad market as currently set up, and that we need innovation in this area so that advertisers will get good value as they continue to bring their ad dollars online. Google’s problems at YouTube which I posted about this morning are but one example.

In this vain I have previously posted Jakob Nielsen’s studies of how much we see (or rather don’t see) ads when we look at web pages. This afternoon I came across some new data which I wanted to share:

The Warren, R.I.-based marketing research and consulting firm [MarketingSherpa] commissioned Eyetools to run an eye-tracking study in February with the goal of finding out how and whether on-page placement affected overall calculations of return on investment and return on ad spend (ROI and ROAS).

The study found that while an ad placed above the fold is visible to 100% of site visitors, only about 60% of them actually see it. At best, below-the-fold units are visible to roughly 70% of viewers, but only about a quarter of them actually see the ads. The ratios continue to trend downward as the ad units move from center placements to columns and spots on the far left side of the page.

So 40-70% of ads are simply not seen. This stat is much less frightening than the Nielsen studies I linked to above. I would guess that a similar percentage of TV/magazine/outdoor advertising is also not seen. So despite the negative tone of the MediaPost article I think this is encouraging news for the online ad industry.

Thanks to Bart for the pointer.