Backers Decide: What Makes You Want to Click (or Not Click) a Banner Ad?

9 December 2015 | 32 Comments

Scythe_BGG_160x600_AnnaDo you even see banner ads when you browse the internet? Or have you trained yourself over time to blur them out and only focus on the content you’re there to consume?

That’s pretty much how I am, with one exception: When I use BoardGameGeek, I’m very interested in the banner ads. Most of them, that is.

This post isn’t just for tabletop game creators. Whichever category you’re in, there’s at least one website where people go because they really want to know everything they can about that subject. Banner ads are perfect for that.

For banner ads connecting people to Kickstarter campaigns, what information is necessary to entice you to click through? My answer might be very different than yours, so I thought I’d post a poll here.

Also, I have a huge pet peeve relating to banner ads: I loathe any banner ad that has moving elements. I can’t focus on the core content of a website when I have an animated graphic bouncing around two inches to the right. It’s a huge turnoff to me, and it reflects poorly on the project itself. But maybe that’s just me. So I have a separate poll about that below.

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32 Comments on “Backers Decide: What Makes You Want to Click (or Not Click) a Banner Ad?

  1. Heh sorry my previous reply got disconnected from its target…

    Like you Jamey I tend to actively look for interesting looking game ads on BGG. I rely on them to some degree.

    I actually wondered whether you might get better results with or without the KS badge on your ad too.

    I’m surprised at the utter hatred for animated ads. I did a couple of subtle ones for monstrous where the cyclops eye would suddenly look at a different part of the page then stay there, then look straight up at you.., then look away again. Seemed fun and in theme while we tried to be as subtle as we could. I think we just ran that sequence once then let it sit for a loooong time. Would be sad if even that annoyed people

  2. Yeah I think most people try both. Banner ads on BGG were at least worth their money for me and had an impossible to measure secondary impact through just building awareness.

  3. I kinda wish there was a category between ambivalent and hate.. the vast majority of animated ads are, indeed, horrid and distracting. Probably something like 95-99% of them. But much like you mentioned in your post about using GIFs on your project page – every now and again an animation just makes something difficult to convey otherwise just pop with clarity right away. Every once in a blue moon there’s an ad with some animation that does that. Typically it’s not a boardgame, more likely to be an art piece or physical doodad of some type where the actual *object* is integral. So I don’t always hate them… just very nearly.

  4. Ever get Catscratch fever? I’ve only seen it, and it looks pretty bad. – Otherwise I appreciate the vote of confidence hidden deep within your comment there. : )

  5. Haha. That’s hysterical!
    Well I might be a Sensei in real life but Jamey is the original Sensei of Kickstarter. So for the second time today… *I humbly bow out*

  6. @Jamey – Oh, I see. I believe you are correct. I hereby lose all weight behind that argument. Roughly 40 to 32 is close enough. *humbly bows* : )

  7. Woah, that’s strange, I was clicking on “reply” to bettagames but ended up posting my previous comment in the main thread.

    Re: main post – advertising works in subconscious ways. I think it would be interesting to provide several options of a banner ad and ask for preferences as opposed to list factors. But that would be too effort intensive and this way of asking also yields interesting data.

    Another point – as I was checking off things I like on the banner I stopped to think that it would be a terribly crowded banner to contain all that and unlikely to be too visually appealing.

    My solution to the moving banner ads is to only include moving animation initially, not in an ongoing way – that way it presents the content and then doesn’t bounce around, distracting and annoying the reader.

  8. You make excellent points. In my experience I found that banner ads work as a reminder / general awareness builder rather than the driver to click-through.

    If you’ve seen the banner enough times – you will be likely to check out a review on YouTube/blog. If you’ve read good review but didn’t click to support right away – seeing a banner later on could remind you and make you pull the trigger.

    That’s how these things work for me personally at least.

  9. With 300 current votes on the first poll and only 70 on the 2nd, is it safe to conclude that we can add 130 extra votes to the “ambivalent” category? I think it is.

    “Flashing ads” are only annoying when they’re literally flashing, thus visually screaming at you. I think we all like TV, Movies, Cartoons, and Video games. “Moving pictures” are our universal visual-crack. Even babies are drawn to moving lights and Daddy’s cell phone.

    The real issue is when they’re crappy “Obama has lowered the refi rate” ads you get in Yahoo Mail. A respectfully made ad with a griffon soaring in, and a soothing glow in the background with a 1-time glint of a letter or number in the ad is classy and we tend to stare at those.

    Am I wrong?

    1. I can’t speak for everyone John, but I hate all animated ads. The reason is, usually I’m trying to read something on the main website page. It’s incredibly distracting when I’m seeing constant movement out of the corner of my eye. I lose focus on whatever I’m reading and usually end up just blocking the ad.

      If your ad is well designed and relevant to the site it’s being displayed on, animations are unnecessary. Good design and smart targeting trumps gimmicks every day of the week.

    2. John: I think there are varying degrees of annoyingness for animated ads, but for me, any add with any moving element is very distracting for me, even if it’s tastefully done. I would much, much prefer ads to be stationary.

      1. @Tony & Jamey – I wonder what other people think on this. Maybe I’m just a product of my generation (though we’re all about the same age bracket here), but moving pictures are like a Moth and a flame to me. I’ve started at a stupid baseball bouncing around a field of random numbers about something I don’t even know what, for like 30 seconds before and been like “oh wait”. Maybe that’s what you’re saying too… only you actively don’t like that it “distracts” you. I can get that. – My face was on ADD posters when I was a child, so I guess such feels normal to me. : P

        1. John: I’m equally curious about what others think about this–that’s why I put the poll on this post! :) So far I think it’s quite telling that only 1 person on the poll seems to genuinely enjoy animated banner ads.

          1. Point taken. But I like them, in fact I often enjoy studying the tech and thought that went into them (on BGG that is). But even I put “ambivalent”. Between the pro & con options that both felt pretty strong, I threw my lot in with neutral.

            I also therefore think it’s telling that it’s now up to 300 people who didn’t even vote. I know part of that is the “1 vote threshold” that proves itself time and time again, but even so… that’s a lot of ambivalence to the question, and thus to the topic, and thus to animated ads. – One also needs to factor in that this vote is an opportunity to complain anonymously online and we all know that’s more prevalent online than random acts of kindness. – Finally, people are asked to share their fair opinion immediately after the well respected author of the post says “I loathe any banner ad that has moving elements” (which is a fair opinion) and “and it reflects poorly on the project itself” (which is another opinion but reads like a factual assessment).

            All I’m saying is that there is A LOT of data in the unanswered question, and at least a bit that could have affected the responses.

            Look, I have no reason to cheer for animated ads. I honestly don’t care. I’ve formally cast my lot with ambivalence. I’m just trying to draw out moderate conclusions and data before someone sees this post and concludes their animated ad is going to hurt their campaign. Might it? Yes. But might it help? Yes.

            Ok, I’m gonna go finish my article because I’m working on data regarding my animated BGG ads vs. my static ones right now, and I think the data on the CTRs for each could add a lot to the discussion but I can’t fit it all here.

            Love you all! Animated ad likers and dislikers alike. : )

  10. I hate animated ads with a passion. That’s also why I banned them on my site. I also use an adblocker, but disable it on websites that I want to support and also have proven to not abuse ads. When sites get too crazy, they get blocked.

    I really like relavent ads, such as some of them on BGG. Although the new amazon product ads they are showing are incredibly annoying.

    1. I wasn’t going to say anything, since I haven’t much to add, but then BoardGameQuest said this:
      “I really like relavent ads, such as some of them on BGG. Although the new amazon product ads they are showing are incredibly annoying,” and I felt compelled to echo thought. BGG used to be my safe haven. It is no more, and I am sad.

      1. Chris: That’s a great point. I hadn’t thought about that, but it has become quite annoying to see non-relevant ads on BGG. One of the reasons I actually like the banner ads on BGG is because they’re all relevant, but if they become more and more diluted with other ads, I’m sure I’ll instinctively start to tune out all of them.

  11. I think your poll assumes it, just just to be sure – the name of the game is important to me. I like to be able to research the game on BGG as well as look at the KS page or whatever.

    (That said, I actually have the ad blockers on and infrequently check front page of BGG so I never see the banner ads anyways.)

  12. I simply have never seen the economic value of banner ads. The click through rate vs views on site are so low that it doesn’t seem worth the investment. And with ad blockers and “banner blindness” it seems obvious that the consumer has decided, conciously or otherwise, that they do not care for them.

    In comparison, investing time and money into more interactive marketing such as YouTube videos, blogs, instagram, and other social media seem to have much better results. This is likely because social media is in fact social. It’s sharable, there’s a conversation, a community, involvment and immediate exchanges of social currency.

    In short. Banner ads makes the consumer aware, interactive social media makes the consumer involved.

  13. You should normalise this data with how regularly these elements occur in Kickstarter banners. Player count and number of stretch goals achieved are the lowest so far, but they might also be the least common elements! Of course I have no idea how you would get data on this easily, so consider this as something to bear in mind when analysing the results!

    Great idea for a poll, I hope there are some valuable insights!

  14. When analyzing a banner ad, I look to see if it’s a Kickstarter project and if it’s the type of game I’d want to play. However, I feel that beautiful art and nice graphic design subconsciously influences my decision to click.

    Also, I think I click on ads on BGG more than any other site!

  15. No banners.. i have banner blindness and thats good. You won’t catch me with ANY banner at all. :) I just browse bgg/KS and check for stuff myself.

  16. Fellow loather of animated ads chiming in. That’s exactly why we don’t allow them on KT. We call it our “rusty forks” policy for a reason, as I’d rather stab my eyes out with rusty forks than have animated ads on our site or impose them on the user base.

  17. My Advert post for you and our corresponding one for our site is almost ready. Add food poisoning to the list of delays. I should be able to finish it this week. Great post and poll here.

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