LONDON: Online ad buyers can achieve significantly better results by avoiding cluttered websites, according to a new study.

For the report, Adblock Plus, the ad blocking tool, and Sticky, the media tech firm, set out to determine the effectiveness of different types of online website ad formats by analysing the eye movements of 1,200 research participants in Europe and North America as they viewed a set of test websites.

They measured which ads were viewed, how quickly ads were noticed on the page, and how much time viewers spent on each ad, while follow-up survey questions measured ad recall and brand perceptions.

They found that ads placed on clutter-free web pages were nearly 200% more likely to be seen, and were noticed 300% faster.

Furthermore, the same ads were more likeable when they appeared on such sites. Viewers reported 129% higher likeability scores for ads on clean sites compared to exactly the same ads when presented on a cluttered site.

Unsurprisingly, ad recall was rather lower for those ads appearing on jumbled websites, falling 36%.

The study also measured viewers' responses to different types of ad and established that people much preferred the static format to attention-grabbing animated ads. The latter were viewed as simply annoying and resulted in increased negative sentiment towards a brand and reduced click through rates.

"Respectful online ads outperform sites that are cluttered and tacky," declared Till Faida, Adblock Plus co-founder and CEO. He added that publishers should take note that consumers "do not want to suffer from sensory overload on a jumbled, flashy site".

In a separate development, the UK's Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) – the independent body that defines best practice and standards for online ad trading – has awarded kitemarks to nine companies that meet industry-agreed standards to reduce the risk of ads being served next to inappropriate or illegal content online.

Another seven organisations are set to join them within six months after undergoing an independent verification process.

Data sourced from Adblock Plus, JICWEBS; additional content by Warc staff