E-Media Tidbits points to a Neilsen/Norman eye tracking study that reveals:
…people do not look at static ads with graphic treatment.
Users seem to “zone out” (with their peripheral vision) ads and other site elements that have clearly distinguishable ad features such as graphics and colors that make the ads look different from the rest of the site, or animated ads….When users DO look at ads with graphics, those ads usually have:
-Heavy use of large, clear text
-A color scheme that matches the site’s style
-Attention-grabbing proprieties such as black text on a white background, words such as “free” and interactive (UI)
It’s interesting that the ads which are “native” to a site – in other words, that are driven by text, as much of web still is, and that follow a site’s design approach, do best. It reminds me of ads in Wired in the middle years – advertisers started to adapt Wired’s unique visual grammar, and the whole publication felt like one ongoing conversation. I’ve argued for the past few years that advertising needs to not interrupt, but rather be part of a site’s dialog. This research seems to confirm that concept.