People largely ignore display advertisement on websites. A more successful, albeit unethical, approach to grab attention is to make the ad look like content, reports Jakob Nielsen's Alert Box.
These findings (via David Black) reminded me of a recent survey by Director A/S which showed that the click-through rate (CTR) for professional blog posts was 5-6 more times effective than for advertisement banners. The survey even found that those who read commercial blogs buy more than those who arrive at a company's website via advertisment banners (via Berlingske.dk)
I'm in two minds about this survey: of course blogs can be a much more effective way to communicate with people you want to reach, but there's blogs and there's blogs, if you know what I mean – the genuine ones, and those that read like press releases. I'd hate to see this survey cause an inflation in the latter.
This, however, is a no-brainer:
"Even when we did record a fixation within a banner, users typically didn't engage with the advertisement. Often, users didn't even see the advertiser's logo or name, even when they glanced at one or two design elements elsewhere inside an ad."