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Middle School Student Studies Internet Advertising

Science Fair Project Catches Attention of Industry CEO


An unlikely pair was recently united by a common interest in banner blindness.

Chloe Glikbarg, an eighth grader at Goleta Valley Junior High School, caught the attention of Dave Zinman, Chief Executive Officer of Infolinks and former General Manager of display advertising at Yahoo!, through her recent gold medal-winning project on banner blindness presented at the Santa Barbara County Science Fair. Banner blindness is a phenomenon the digital advertising industry has become privy to where consumers screen out Internet advertisements.

Zinman, a longtime advocate of a charge-free Internet, pioneered the Internet ad server over 15 years ago. While it appears obvious, the Internet-advertisement model is what allows for what so many take for granted: a cost-free Internet.

However, the seemingly successful advertising model is actually, for the most part, ineffective. Although Internet advertising offers the opportunity to capture consumer attention, studies have found that many U.S. consumers have become accustomed to avoiding online advertisements. Infolinks studies this phenomenon to monetize digital advertising for publishers and advertisers.

Glikbarg took interest in banner blindness, and wondered just how effective or ineffective online advertising is. “Why do people click or not click on ads?” she asked in a phone interview.

Acting on the many questions concerning Internet advertising, Glikbarg designed a survey to analyze banner blindness according to gender. The online inquiry, which included 70 females and 55 males, was comprised of mock banner advertisements and a mock search engine. “Hot-spots” built into the interface allowed Glikbarg to calculate how many times participants clicked on these advertisements.

“Online advertising is more effective for women by 20.3 percent,” said Glikbarg, reflecting on the findings of her project. Overall, she found that females clicked on banner advertisements about 28 percent of the time whereas males clicked only 7 percent of the time.

“People aren’t really looking at ads in the first place,” Glikbarg pointed out, explaining that online advertisements could be a potential waste of corporate advertising dollars. She proposed that more targeted advertising could be more effective in attracting consumer interest.

In the meantime, Zinman has taken serious interest in Glikbarg’s project, which will be featured on BannerBlindness.org in the coming months. BannerBlindness.org is a community site developed by Infolinks that serves as a storehouse for the research developed on banner blindness in order to raise awareness about the problem and develops ways to circumvent it.

Glikbarg, speaking modestly about her accomplishment, said that while she is fascinated by banner blindness, she has many other interests she still plans on pursuing.

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