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Who is paying attention to banner ads?

One of the challenges of online marketing is determining how to best divide your budget between available methods. A number of forces continue to converge that make this decision ever more complicated. Google's successful efforts to encourage high-quality, contextually relevant content and penalize sites that try to take short-cuts coupled with the growing influence of apps and mobile search are forcing firms to employ multiple tactics. And the question of how much social media activity and influence may (or may not) affect results adds another layer of complexity.

Within this patchwork of integrated marketing are some tools that have been around for many years, like email marketing and banner ads. Banner ads are ubiquitous, and marketers still like to argue over whether or not they are effective. Certainly, if your firm that predominantly serves small businesses within your local geographic area places ads on a large national site like, you will be wasting your money. But if you can target people on the right sites – especially those who have already visited your site – you can keep yourself top of mind and promote conversion. Because of these issues, banner ads may be appropriate for some firms and less effective for others.

Are people clicking on banner ads?

With an average click-through rate of 2.1%, it may seem like no one pays attention to banner ads. But people do – the question is who, and is this the demographic you want to target. Prestige Marketing released an infographic last month detailing a collection of statistics about who is clicking on banner ads and why, which can be instructive for those curious about whether a banner ad campaign may work for their needs. Here is a summary of their findings.

banner ads

Age: People age 55 or older are most likely to click on banner ads. Users in this demographic account for slightly more than 50% of all clicks. However, younger people also show interest, with 58% of those aged 15-24 claiming to have clicked on at least one ad.

Education: Individuals with college educations are more likely to click on ads than those with a high school education or less. Of the college graduates surveyed, 71% claimed to have clicked on an ad within the last 6 months, whereas only 59% of those with a high school education or less said they had done the same.

Why clicking: These statistics show that banner ads appeal to those who have heard of your services and, perhaps surprisingly, also those who have not. The top two reasons given for clicking on an ad are that 1) it showed something they were already interested in and 2) piqued their interest in something they had not already considered.

Why not clicking: There is a considerably longer list of reasons people do not click on banner ads. The three most common reasons are people do not want to be distracted, the ads aren't relevant and users are afraid of getting spam from the advertiser. People also claimed to be worried about viruses and being tracked. The reasons people give for not clicking make it clear that if you are going to utilize banner ads, you need to choose the sites on which you advertise carefully.

Highly targeted ads can deliver traffic that is predisposed to be interested in your services. Knowing who is most likely to click and understanding what prevents others from doing so can help you build a more effective campaign.