Content Marketing
Banner Ads Have 99 Problems And A Click Ain’t One

Banner Ads Have 99 Problems And A Click Ain’t One

January 23, 2022
5 min read

If content marketing is the hero of the modern marketing story, then banner ads are most certainly the villain.

Banner ad click through rates have fallen to less than 0.1%. And they just keep falling . . .

This and the title of this post have become one of my favorite content marketing quotes because they demonstrate one of the biggest challenges with marketing today: Marketing that doesn’t deliver real results like revenue and ROI.

But clicks aren’t the only problem that banners face. Here are some of the deeper issues facing banner ads:

  • Viewability: Banners that are never actually viewed by anyone
  • Click fraud: Websites that fake clicks on banners
  • Bots: Automated scripts that scour the web and click on advertiser banners
  • Viewer fatigue: We have learned to ignore banners
  • Ad Blockers: How more and more of us try to avoid unwanted banners

All these issues have caused almost all of us to completely ignore ads on the side, or above, or below, or on top of, the content we are trying to view.

The First Banner Ad

This is the first banner ad from way back in 1994:

This banner ad saw a 44% click through rate and sent traffic to a series of AT&T ads narrated by Tom Selleck, that promised a future where you could read books, get directions, send faxes, pay tools, buy stuff, watch movies, and attended meetings – all online? Whoa!!!

Banners have suffered a bit since then.

The number of people who can access the web has grown from 30 Million in 1994 to more than 7 Billion. That’s 50% of every single person on the planet (including babies) according to Internet World Stats.

The amount of content on the internet has grown by leaps and bounds. Every minute of the day, there are more Google searches than there were people on the web back in 1994. Every minute, there are 10 times more emails sent than there were people on the web in 1994.

And so the number of banners ads we’ve served all these web visitors has grown as well. The banner ad display format is expected to grow 7% this year to more than $44 Billion, despite the crazy insane lack of effectiveness.

Marketers are blindly shifting their ad budgets into digital ad formats that are seeing lower and lower response rates.

Content Marketing Helps Brand Reach Their Customers Through Content They Actually Want

Instead of interrupting our content experiences, content marketing promises to be the content our customers are looking for.

Content marketing seeks to earn an audience vs. buying it.

And when you create content that people actually want, content that actually helps them, then you build a relationship based on trust.

And trust is what ultimately drives conversion to real sales, real customers, and real business value.

But if you need more stats, here I’ve compiled dozens of stats to support the notion that banners have 99 problems but a click ain’t one.

1. Banner ad growth last year was +7% (Iron Paper) despite these massive decline in CTRs.

2. The Average Click Thru Rate for all forms of banner ads is 0.06% (Google)

3. Ooops – As many as 60% of clicks on banner ads are accidental (Media Week)

4. Only 9% of Digital Ads are viewed more than 1 second (MarketingWeek)

5. 25% of us use ad blockers, up 34% vs. previous year (eMarketer)

6. One-Third of ad-block users find display ads completely intolerable (Pagefair)

7. Ouch! 90% of ad clicks are by “bots” (Facebook)

8. We are served more than 1,700 banner ads per month (Comscore)

9. Once a digital banner ad reaches the same person 40 times or more in a month, sales can actually decline (The Advertising Research Foundation)

10. You are more likely to survive a plane crash of win the lottery than have someone click on your banner ad (Business Insider)

11. 28% of marketers have reduced their ad budgets and shifted to other forms of marketing (Gartner)

12. 54% of internet users have never clicked a banner ad because they don’t trust them. (BannerSnack)

13. Mobile advertising will represent 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending. (Payfirma)

14. Digital video ad spend will exceeded TV ad spend for the first time 2 years ago. (Contently)

15. 8% of Internet users account for 85%of clicks. (ComScore)

16. 25-34-year olds see 3,094 banner ads per month. (ComScore)

17. You are more likely to birth twins than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)

18. You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)

19. You are more likely to get a full house while playing poker than click on a banner ad.(Solve Media) 

20. You are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)

21. You are more likely to get into MIT than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)

22. Only 30% of consumers trust search engine ads. (MediaPost)

23. Just 22% of consumers trust emails from companies or brands. (MediaPost)

24. Only 13% of us trust ads on Web sites. (MediaPost)

25. Only 32% trust ads in any channel. (MediaPost)

26. 32% of survey participants said they trust information on company or brand Web sites. (MediaPost)

27. The first banner ad saw a 44% CTR (AT&T)

28. 24% said they trust ads in newspapers. (MediaPost)

29. 23% said they trust ads on TV. (MediaPost)

30. 22% said they trust ads in magazines. (MediaPost)

31. 20% said they trust in radio. (MediaPost)

32. 20% said they trust emails from brands or companies. (MediaPost)

33. 18% said they trust posts by brands or companies on social sites. (MediaPost)

34. Consumers trusted the messages in text message ads the least at 12%. (MediaPost)

35. Display ads account for a mere 0.9% of upstream traffic to department store sites. (L2)

38. The U.S. accounts for a quarter of global online display impressions. (DoubleClick)

39. 60% of LinkedIn users have clicked on an ad on the site. (Lab42)

40. Video ads account for 13% of time spent viewing video online. (ComScore)

41. Being seen matters more than being clicked. Clicks on banner ads have the lowest correlation with conversion. (ComScore)

42. The Internet accounts for 26% of U.S. consumer interaction with media, and 22% of advertising spending. (Mary Meeker)

43. Over 6.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users. (ComScore)

44. That’s 1 trillion more than 2015. (ComScore)

45. The standard 468 x 60 banner has a .04% click rate. (DoubleClick)

46. An estimated 50% of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)

47. The display advertising technology ecosystem has 318 logos. (Luma Partners)

48. Mobile CPMs are 75 cents. (Mary Meeker)

49. 15% trust banner ads compared to 29% for TV ads. (eMarketer)

50. 34% don’t trust banner ads at all compared to 26% for magazine ads. (eMarketer)

51. 70% of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising. (

52. People view native ads 53% more than banner ads. (Dedicated Media)

53. A native ad for GE reached 5.1 million people and resulted in 416,000 clickthroughs at an >8% CTR. (Beeby Clark+Meyler)

54. Viewers spend nearly the same amount of time reading editorial content and native ads. (ShareThrough)

55. The average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month. (Comscore)

56. According to me, every pre-roll video ad made me hate the advertiser

OK, that’s not 99 problems. But I think 56 problems is enough! What do you think? Should banners be put to rest?

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2 thoughts on “Banner Ads Have 99 Problems And A Click Ain’t One


    Thank you Michael, this is a very useful information. I only have 1 question, if content marketing is the hero of the modern marketing story, then banner ads are most certainly the villain. So, how can I send traffic to the note? I work in sales area for a premium editorial and I sell content marketing for many companies, but we use a banner to send traffic to the note. Are we doing things right?

  2. Michael Brenner

    Thanks for this great question. I think banners CAN be effective and we can reverse this whole trend if we make the messaging of digital display content vs. ads. In fact, I saw a stat that said that when content is promoted in banner ads it experiences an 800% increase in CTR. So I think you are on the right track. Now imagine if everyone did this! Maybe we can bring the banner back…now I need to find a rap song title for that article 😉

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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