Research Study Finds ‘Loud’ Website Ads Do Not Work

Flashy, animated ads and cluttered web pages result in 36% poorer ad recall and 76% decline in brand opinion

Adblock Plus, the world’s most popular browser extension when measured by downloads, today announced the results of a joint research study with media technology firm Sticky to determine the effectiveness of different types of online website ad formats. The research found that static ads placed on a clean page layout yield better measurable results for the advertiser than do animated ‘flashy’ ads that scream for attention.

The research study was conducted by analysing eye movements of 1,200 research participants in North America and Europe as they viewed a set of test websites. Ad researchers were able to measure which ads were viewed, how quickly ads were noticed on the page, and how much time viewers spent on each ad. Follow-up survey questions measured ad recall, brand perceptions, and other descriptive information about various ad types.

Among the key findings of the international research:

– Static ads are 300 percent more likely to be rated “easy to understand” than jumpy animated ads

– Flashy animated ads are 200 percent more likely to be considered “dated”

– Ads placed on clutter-free web pages are nearly 200 percent more likely to be seen, and are noticed 300 percent faster

– Participants’ opinion of the advertised brand was 76 percent more likely to be negative after viewing an animated ad versus a static ad

– Ad Recall falls 36 percent when ads are presented on a cluttered website

– Ads are more likeable when presented on an clutter-free website; viewers reported 129 percent higher likeability scores for ads on clean sites versus the exact same ads when presented on a cluttered site

– Likelihood to click (Click Through Rate) was actually lower for attention-grabbing blinking ads than for clean, static ads (26 percent  very/somewhat likely for animated versus 31 percent  very/somewhat likely for static)

These research findings confirm the validity of the Adblock Plus ‘Acceptable Ads’ guidelines as a win-win for both advertiser and consumer.

“The results of this study send a clear message to publishers that consumers do not want to suffer from sensory overload on a jumbled, flashy site,” said Till Faida, Adblock Plus co-founder and CEO. “We’ve championed simpler, better ads for nearly two years. These research results provide clear proof that respectful online ads outperform sites that are cluttered and tacky.”

“With our ad measurement technology we can, among other things, help advertisers optimise their media budget by telling them how their ads are performing – how many impressions are viewed and for how long,” said Sticky CEO and founder Mathias Plank. “Working with Adblock Plus, the idea was to see how different types of ads perform in different environments. And the results are a wake-up call for both ad agencies and ad publishers.”

Research Methodology

The eye tracking study was conducted with a total of 1,200 respondents in two language groups, English and German. Research participants were allowed to view both static and animated ads as they were presented on both simple websites and then on sites cluttered with many ads. Sticky’s technology measured where participants’ eyes were focused, and for how long. Participants were then asked a series of follow-up questions about their opinions of the ads and sites displayed. See full research results in our Ad Effectiveness study on the Adblock Plus blog, along with ‘heatmap’ images of the eye-tracking studies.

About Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus is an open source project that aims to rid the Internet of annoying and intrusive online advertising. Its free web browser extensions (add-ons) put users in control by letting them block or filter which ads they want to see. Users across the world have downloaded Adblock Plus over 300 million times. It has remained the most downloaded and the most used extension almost continuously since November 2006. In 2013 PC Magazine listed the extension as one of the best free Google Chrome extensions, and it received a 2013 readers’ choice award for best privacy/security add-on.

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