blindfolded man

Today, as you drink your cup of coffee and peruse the web, you are going to see ads. Hundreds, if not thousands of them. These ads are intended to entice you, to reel you in, to make you think, ‘Hey, why don’t I click on that banner? It sure looks interesting. I do want that deal!’ And you, being the intelligent consumer/web user you most obviously are, are probably going to ignore these silent pleas coming at you from the multifarious advertising crevasses of the internet. You know better than to click, right?

You, along with most everyone else out there. This is because people just don’t see online ads anymore. We are blind to them.

This revelation comes from general online common sense, and now a survey from advertising company Infolinks. Over the past many months Infolinks has been studying precisely where eyeballs go on webpages, how people consume online advertising content, as well as what are the most successful ways to make everyday users actually participate with online advertising.

The findings weren’t necessarily surprising, but speak to the constant ad bombardment an everyday web user encounters. In short, the survey found that non-traditionally placed ads — those that aren’t in the usual “ad banner” spaces of above or to the side of websites — performed much better than tradition ones. Further, it found that people just didn’t like traditional ads.

Or, in the words of the survey, it found that 60 percent of the respondents thought that “traditional ad units” were irrelevant.

What’s more, the survey found that ads that were considered “non-traditional” performed heaps better than their counterparts. When looking at eye-tracking and recognition of these ads, it found that those going against the grain of common ad placement were seen 225 percent quicker than ads merely placed on the top of the page. Additionally, the time these eyeballs spent with non-traditionally placed ad units increased by 100 percent.

In essence, switching up where an online ad resides will probably mean better and longer engagement. You might even click it.

Dave Zinman, the CEO of Infolinks, explained the methodology of the survey. It used a technology from a company called EyeTrackShop that was able to track participants’ eyeballs. This technology was used to “literally measure where the eyes are on the page.”

The participants were given various pages arranged in different formations to see if new page schema performed better than the old. The big take-home from the study, according to Zinman, was, “You want to break out of the normal places.”

Well, yes, this makes sense.

Additionally, the survey found that ads that were relevant — i.e. responded to what people were doing at that moment — also performed better, a reason Google’s AdWords is so popular.

Of course, because the survey was funded by an ad company, said ad company has the answers to the problems it presents. So, if you go to Infolinks’ website, you see that it offers numerous non-traditionally placed ad solutions, as well as an “insearch” function, which means relevant ad results. The idea is that these solutions will perform better than other online ad platforms. They are in and of themselves the most relevant of relevant ads.

In a different light, this survey does reveal that for ads to be successful, they have to break out of the old mold, because people are just not seeing them anymore. “The industry has to come up with new ways of targeting,” Zinman said.

And, he’s right. The flip-side is that once nontraditional ads become more commonplace then they, too, will become traditional. It’s like a dog always chasing its tail.

So maybe in the not-too-distant future the new normal will be thousands of relevant ads in random spaces on a website. And the only way to grab you then will be to include something truly shocking, like a personal photo or an audio track of your mother. Dear lord, I hope not.