RAA2: Text Advertising Blindness


Owens, J., Chaparro, B., & Palmer, E. (2011). Text Advertising Blindness: The new banner blindness? Journal of Usability Studies, 6(3). 172-197. Retrieved from http://delivery.acm.org/10.1145/2010000/2007460/JUS_Owens_May_2011.pdf?ip= 90678659&__acm__=1348268449_a87fcdf4fabf8f7c2e5d6221360e0ebd


To expand the banner blindness concept to text advertising blindness and to examine the effect of search type and advertisement location on the degree of blindness.

Do people not see text advertisements the same way they are ‘blind’ to banner advertisements?


The authors created a website about the different Hawaiian Islands. For the first study, the participants had to either locate a specific fact in the website or find information related to a given topic.  The website was divided into content areas so the authors could determine and explain where their tracked eye movements were located.

After performing the tasks the participants filled out a questionnaire that asked them in what regions the advertisements were located.

Main Findings:

Users tend to miss information in text ads at the top of the page.  When information was placed in either the top or side areas where advertisements usually were, they user was likely to miss the information. Participant search strategies differed depending on search type and whether the top are of the page was perceived to be advertising or relevant content.

Text ad blindness does occur, can significantly affect search performance on web pages and is more prevalent on the right side of the page than the top.

The authors recommend that text advertisements be placed near the content of the webpage and designers should realize that most users ignore the right side and the top of the page, expecting an advertisement and not relevant information.


Text ad blindness and banner advertisement blindness was one of those things that you knew happened but never really thought about.  When you go to a webpage, you automatically have an idea of where useful information is and know to not click anything on the side or the top of the page.  It is interesting and useful information to confirmed that this is in fact the case, we are ‘blind’ to those spots.

Now what can a User experience designer use with this information? How much of a concession does a user experience designer have to make for advertisements?  I suppose it depends on how much the client wants to please their advertisers. Then again, I imagine they treat it just like any part of the site that must be there, they design to provide the best user experience first and then please the advertises? Hmm, this is more of an ethical question for the client I guess.  Better user experience or happier advertisers?  As a user, I would be annoyed by seeing an advertisement where I am used to content and would likely not use that website. But as an advertiser, I want you to see my ad at all costs and don’t care if you had a good time.

This blindness though, I would like to see more data on what happens if the text advertisments scroll, or move, or blink.  Something to grab your attention.  Does it still get ignored or do these, what I would call cheap, tricks work? This would be an interesting study to read.


  1. Wow!! The idea of text advertising blindness is completely new for me. I’ve just noticed that we were trained to ignore those spots.

    As I read your RAA, I can think of clear examples that can be explained by this research, Google and Youtube. When you search on those websites, two areas of ads will appear, on the top above your search result and on the right. Personally, I completely ignored the ads on the right. For the ads on the top, even the website provided a box with different color around those links, I clicked on them frequently. That’s because they look so similar to the content as they were placed together with the real content.

  2. Ideally, advertisers would also care about a meaningful and positive user experience – otherwise, negative associations with the product might develop.

    Good RAA – your points on Bb.

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