Banner ads are almost as old as the world wide web itself. And they haven’t changed much ever since – today, they have become such an important part of a website that designers routinely leave areas free for them – in the header, in the sidebar, and in many other places. But people grew to hate them from the bottom of their heart thanks to the desperate measures taken by advertisers to make them stand out (like the blinking banners that caused who knows many seizures over the years) and the greedy publishers that often covered their content in multiple layers of advertising and calls-to-action. And the situation is not much better on mobile either. There are a few apps, following the growing trend of online casino apps, that have no visible advertising (usually) – but will interrupt the users’ experience with full-screen video ads that will howl at maximum volume and can’t be skipped. Others have banners placed on their bottom or their top (or half the screen) that are every bit as annoying and out-of-place as the multiple layers of banners were on websites.
People have found ways to block banner ads on desktop browsers and mobile apps alike, rendering them ineffective – what once was a means of making a living for millions of websites out there is now something on its way out thanks to ad blockers and banner blindness. But what will take the place of banners if (and when) they disappear?
One of the options is native advertising – and this seems to be the best, considering that it doesn’t imply any design considerations. Native advertising is content that looks and feels like the rest of the content published on a website but it is paid for by an advertiser. Of course, there’s an ethical side to this type of advertising – it has to be clearly marked not to fool the visitors into thinking it is actual content – but once this is worked out, it will likely turn into the advertising method of choice for a variety of publications. And it might – just might – finally rid the internet of the many spam websites that add no value to the common pool of knowledge but trick people into clicking their advertising and affiliate links.
Banner ads served by various advertising networks are bad not only for the visitors of a website but for the designers, too. Think of it like this: you create a beautiful, organic, and usable layout for a website. Then, a banner ad served by an advertiser comes and ruins it all with a color or an animation that’s completely out of place. Without banner ads, we’ll probably have a cleaner and more beautiful experience all over the web – hopefully, sooner rather than later.