Ad clutter refers to too many ads displayed on a web page or website. Even if all ad placements are viewable above the fold, ad clutter reduces ad noticeability and ad impact as each ad competes for user’s attention.
A 2008 Burst Media study showed that ad clutter not only diminishes ad effectiveness but it also impacts negatively brand and product perception. The study showed also that ad clutter was a reason for abandoning the publisher website.
Image credit : Burst Media
Ad clutter is often due to the willingness of publishers to maximize ad revenues, but it is often a short term calculation because it may devalue overall ad inventory, particularly in situations where there is unsold inventory.
Many large publishers had to back down in this domain and have reduced ad placements on their pages. Another way of reduce ad clutter - or rather ad competition on the page - is to sell roadblock ads.
Ads compete among themselves for user’s attention, but also compete on the page with other visual elements. So, overall page clutter must also be taken into account for online ad planning.
An illustration of ad cluttered page by the Museum of Marketing Madness: