And that's an important clarification to make - I don't hate banner ads as a consumer. They're an (usually) unobtrusive means of generating revenue for content creators. I'm okay with that and it's why I don't use an ad-blocking tool.
It's the industry I hate. That we've somehow fooled ourselves into believing banner ads work.
This is not another article about how you're more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad (although apparently that is true). We know click-through rates are embarrassing.
Here are a few other reasons I fucking hate display advertising:
- The percentage of users with an ad-blocking tool is now in double digits (and growing).
- The percentage of impressions which are fraudulent is also in double digits.
- We recommend the default formats with no thought.
- We recommend the default networks and suppliers with no thought.
- We almost always invest too much on production.
- We invest even more on rich media production.
- With each campaign we throw out everything.
- Wallpaper is acceptable.
- Matching luggage is acceptable.
- We think banner ads can increase awareness.
- We talk about optimisation but don't do it (or even know how).
- We talk about test and learn but don't know how to run a fair double blind test. Or what a confidence interval is.
- Our default report covers nothing more than impressions and clicks.
- Impressions are an entirely useless metric to report on.
- We're afraid to talk about visibility or unique reach.
- We're afraid to talk about what happens after the click. Rarely does a report mention, let alone analyse, how users behave on-site (god forbid if they actually complete a goal or convert).
- I have never seen a display report which mentions ROI.
- 'Post-view conversion' is a bullshit attribution model which favours the media buyer.
Of course, there are exceptions. Performance media done efficiently and optimised can be very effective. I can appreciate a retargeting campaign as much as the next guy if you can prove to me it works. Sadly, examples of smart people doing smart things are few and far between in this industry.
But above all else, the biggest reason I fucking hate banner advertising (#19) is no one is willing to discuss the issues above. We're too afraid to have these tough conversations, let alone attempt to address them. Instead we blindly carry on as we always have, oblivious to just how useless display advertising is.
Worse than anything, not only have we convinced our clients the emperor is wearing clothes, but I'm starting to think we actually believe our own bullshit too.