As media and digital best practices have told us, it’s always better to have a banner ad that is interesting for a user to interactive with. Animated banners are more engaging than static banners, banners with videos are more engaging than animated banners, and so forth. But have we gone too far with the expandable, screen takeover, crazy “rich media” banners? Rather than giving users an opportunity to interact with the brand and learn more about it’s offerings, it becomes a disruptive presence that only serves to annoy consumers. When I log on to a website, I’m going there for a reason— usually to read news, learn about something, or stalk my friends. That reason is never to look at advertising and, even working in this industry, I can’t help but get frustrated when my user experience is interrupted for several seconds as I try to click out of a banner that’s taken up my entire screen (I’m looking at you, nymag.com).
User annoyance aside, is there a darker side to expandable banners? With these type of intrusive banners, I’ve always wondered if advertisers are paying for “clicks” that aren’t qualified. We’ve all been in the situation of trying to frantically opt out of the ad to get back to our content and accidentally clicking through to the site. I would hate to have to try to explain to a client why their campaign has a really high CTR but analytics show very little interaction on their website, because users are just trying to escape their advertising. Ultimately, while we want to engage with online users we want to do so in a way that isn’t intrusive and makes them feel positive about visiting our website.