How banner ads can be effective: investigating the influences of exposure duration and banner ad complexity

Kai-Yu Wang

Brock University

Eric Shih

Sungkyunkwan University

Laura A. Peracchio

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, online advertising revenue reached nearly $11 billion in the first half of 2009 (IAB 2009a). Despite the popularity of other forms of internet communication (Cheng et al. 2009; Lee & Youn 2009), internet banner ads – display advertisements that are usually hyperlinked to the websites of advertised products – continue to be one of the leading advertising formats on the web, accounting for 34% of online ads (IAB 2009a). Ideally, banner ads should encourage consumers to click on an ad, linking the consumer to the brand’s target communication and to additional information about the brand. With an estimated 1% click-through rate, however, banner ads appear to have limited success. In fact, empirical studies suggest that the use of click-through, or direct-response measures, may undervalue banner ads as an advertising medium (Briggs & Hollis 1997; Dreze & Hussherr 2003; Yoon & Lee 2007). An increasing number of online advertisers are designing numerous versions of banner ads, and changing elements such as colour, font, image and message in an attempt to come up with an optimal formula to draw clicks (Clifford 2008).