Banner ads build subliminal familiarity

An academic study in to the psychology of online advertising has found new evidence that internet banner ads work exceedingly well.

The paper, produced jointly by several US universities, found that, although many web users do not necessarily click or focus on a banner advert, many subconsciously register the product advertised – and make positive conclusions.

Researchers asked test subjects to read an online essay under the assumption they would be quizzed on its content – in fact, they would be asked their feelings on a product advertised in a banner ad on the essay, with different groups of test subjects exposed to the ad zero, five or 20 times.

The research team found those people with negative impressions of the brand were unaffected by the number of exposures to the banner. But the positive connotation taken away from the ad went up and up in concert with further ad displays.

Banner ads have gradually been falling out of favour as more advertisers opt for keyword-based search marketing and other tactics. Despite this trend, the test results suggest that repeated exposure to banner ads yields positive results, with consumers taking away brand familiarity even if they don’t click through.

Says ArsTechnica: “This suggests that familiarity-based advertising may work best for impulse buys, where more detailed evaluations aren’t likely to occur.”