One thing we know for sure about online advertising is that most web users completely ignore it. Indeed several eye-tracking studies show that online advertising almost never gets a glance. We know where the adverts are and we ignore them. Of course, even though we might not “look” at them, our peripheral vision captures them. So, subconsciously, we are aware of them – and for many advertisers that’s enough. In this fraction-of-a-second glance they can remind us of their brand or get us to be aware of those magic words “special offer”.
However, there is a problem. If we repeatedly get to see an advert in our peripheral vision – we ignore it. Our subconscious goes: “seen that before”. Consequently, the repeated advertising has less effect on us, not a greater effect. We become immune to the adverts we see.
Now, researchers from the University of Chicago have found that even if there is a minor change in the advert, we become aware of it again. What their study showed was that if elements of the original advert moved, there was a much greater chance that people became aware of the advert even after repeated showings.
In pratical terms this means that the adverts you have on your own website or those you publish elsewhere need to be different each time they are presented. For instance, if you have the “Special Offer” logo at the top, next time the advert is shown put it at the bottom. Equally, if you have the price bottom left, next time put it bottom right.
Essentially you need a number of different adverts which are served up automatically in rotation. Just offering one advert is not enough – you need several which change only slightly each time. That way you will be much more likely to catch the viewer’s peripheral vision and stop them thinking they have seen it before.