How Will You Support Your Digital Platform when Banner Ads Disappear?

By Andrew Davis of Tippingpoint Labs, Niche Digital Conference keynote speaker and author of Brandscaping: Unlocking the Power of Audience

As a publisher of content (digital or not) you’ve been trained to sell time in your podcasts or videos and space on your website or in your magazine. But the fact is that digital display advertising won’t be around forever. You need to start thinking beyond advertising if you’re going to be viable long term.

The Phenomenon of Banner Blindness, in three images.

Banner Blindness

Banner Blindness

You’re looking at a heat map from an eyetracking study. Across hundreds of webpages users don’t focus on display ads. Some people scan articles (far left,) others partially read the content (center) and some completely read the article (far right.) Study after study has proven that more and more users are ignoring digital display advertisements. Banner blindness, as it’s called, means those ads are less and less effective for the brands who pay money to appear alongside your most valuable asset: your content.

The Economics of Supply and Demand

Not only are banner ads being ignored more often, but the revenue you’re generating from each impression and click isn’t increasing, in fact, it’s being diluted by an ever increasing supply of freshly published content. Google estimates that tens of billions of web pages are published every single day. Now, I’m no economist, but the simple laws of supply and demand state that as any commodity increases while the demand remains unchanged (or even as it decreases), it leads to a lower price for that commodity (with a higher quantity left unpurchased). This is exactly what’s happening to display ads.

There isn’t enough demand from advertisers in the universe to fill the tens of billions of web advertising opportunities that pop up everyday. This means, you can’t simply rely on selling advertisements forever.

So, What do you sell?

Great question! I’ll be honest, I don’t think I have THE answer, but I have AN answer. The next big battle for branded dollars will be within the context of your content. You heard me right. Brands want to be where the eyeballs are. A quick look at a heat map proves that your advertisers will soon be asking how to be part of the content your readers want to consume instead of the content they chose to ignore.

Ask Yourself…
If you’re going to drive new, higher-value, revenue opportunities for your advertisers what are you going to sell inline with the content?

This article is part of the July Niched Out News. To read all articles in this issue:

Ad Sales Mania: The Secret to Selling More Ads: Stop Talking!

Digital Oz: How Will You Support Your Digital Platform When Banner Ads Disappear?

Success Story: PMQ’s Pizza Magazine becomes first Godengo+Texterity Publisher to Use Full Digital, Web, and App Suite

Niche Magazine of the Month: Fastline

Content Marketing Tip of the Month: 3 Questions Before You Begin a Content Marketing Program


  1. Thanks so much for posting my thoughts about the future of digital revenue. I’m curious to hear what others in the Niche community think.
    Excited to see you all there!
    – Drew

  2. Agreed, Drew. The question will be where is the line between ad and edit? At what point do you alienate readers? Advertisers think they want to be in your content, but if your brand dilutes and readers grow less trusting, it’s not serving the advertisers either. Sponsored emails seem like they are a nice blend…your voice, advertiser’s message, clear to readers. How about social media love? Should that be “ad” or edit? Perhaps sponsored columns within editorial. I think more and more we’ll see media companies morph into full blown ad agencies (although better since I believe agencies have made themselves fairly worthless but that’s another subject entirely) and lead branding strategy, content creation, and creative execution for the advertiser/client. The days of a business owner just placing an ad in your magazine will soon be over.

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