What placement works best for banner ads?

Thomas Z. Ramsøy

March 10, 2021

Banner Ads are one of the most popular forms of advertisement online. You can go to any website and see an ad strategically placed in the hopes of catching someone’s attention. However, not all ads are placed in the same spot - often you see them at the top or the right of one’s screen, all vying for your attention. Thus, prompting the question, is there an optimal placement for banner ads on websites? So how exactly do companies choose where to display their banner ads? Does the placement of the banner affect its attention? Here, we look into two types of Banner ads: Top or Right of the screen website.

Banner Ads

Is there an optimal placement for banner ads on websites? To effectively test the success of banner ads we used Predict to analyze 100 different banner ads on a plethora of websites. Each image collected had Areas of Interest (AOIs) drawn around the targeted area that was then analyzed to determine the percent seen.

Image with an area of interest drawn around it.
Example: AOI drawn around Ad on Mashable

In our first example, we looked at the comparison of two different banner ad types: Top vs. Right

Two identical websites side by side. The image to the left has a heatmap.

Banner Ad Attention

The chart below shows that the average of Banner Ads Top were significantly attended to more than Right. On average Top was seen 10.49% more than Right.

Chart showing banner ad attention.

Further, the chart below shows that overall Top is seen more than Right.

Chart showing banner ad attention.
Chart Depicting Ten Best Performing Ads Top vs. Right

A Deeper Look Into Banner Ads

The size of banner ads impacted the attention to them. For example, the best performing Top (Mashable) took up the length of the webpage. The ad blended well with the rest of the webpage. On the other hand the LifeHacker Top performed 25th out of 50. It was much smaller and was bordered by a thin black line making its appearance as an ad much more noticeable.

Comparison of a banner ad with heatmap and one without.
Best performing Top vs. 25th best performing Top

The trend mentioned above is similar for Top and Right. When the Top or Right encompasses all or a majority of the webpage more attention is seen. This is reflected in the Forbes Top seen 48.63% (3rd out of 50) of the time and NatGeo Right has seen 32.87% (3rd out of 50).

Large Top vs. Large Right

There’s a lot to consider. Specifically the content of the ad. Is the ad strictly words on a solid color background or is there more to it? Some ads contain people, products they’re trying to sell and even obscure images of nature. However, does certain ad content combined with position gain more attention? We used Predict to further explore this.

Both the Top and Right used words to convey their messages. Despite similar methods Top performed better with 47.33% seen which is nearly 15% higher than Right 33.94%.

The success of Top performed better overall but there were differences between the type of Tops. As you can see in the images below the color of the Ad affected the percent seen. Differences in banner ad color and position impacted the attention to the ad. The Economist Top was seen 42.02% while the Politico Top was seen nearly 20% less at 24.17%. This further poses the question: Does banner ad color also affect attention? Another reasoning for this could be that the Politico ad is white on a white background making it much less noticeable.

Top Blue vs. Top White

The Results

Is there really an optimal placement of banner ads? It seems that there is and thanks to Predict we have an idea on what placement is more ideal than the other. Banner Ad placement really does affect the amount seen of the ad by viewers. Banner Ad Top was seen significantly more than Right suggesting that Top is more effective than Right. Furthermore, 42 of the selected 50 Banner Ad Right were seen less than 20% of the time prompting that Right is not as effective as Top.

It’s clear that banner ad placement has a significant impact on the ad grabbing the attention of viewers. So next time you decide to use banner ads be sure to think about the placement and what will gain more views and clicks.

What placement works best for banner ads?

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