Internet advertising: Is anybody watching?



Click-through rates are still the de facto measure of Internet advertising effectiveness. Unfortunately, click-through rates have plummeted. This decline prompts two critical questions: (1) Why do banner ads seem to be ineffective and (2) what can advertisers do to improve their effectiveness? To address these questions, we utilized an eye-tracking device to investigate online surfers' attention to online advertising. Then we conducted a large-scale survey of Internet users' recall, recognition, and awareness of banner advertising. Our research suggests that the reason why click-through rates are low is that surfers actually avoid looking at banner ads during their online activities. This implies that the larger part of a surfer's processing of banners will probably be done at the pre-attentive level. If such is the case, click-through rate is an ineffective measure of banner ad performance. Our research also shows that banner ads do have an impact on traditional memory-based measure of effectiveness. Thus, we claim that advertisers should rely more on traditional brand equity measures such as brand awareness and advertising recall. Using such measures, we show that repetition affects unaided advertising recall, brand recognition, and brand awareness and that a banner's message influences both aided advertising recall and brand recognition.