A recent study being discussed on Highranking Forums discusses the effect ads and calls to action become more flashy users are becoming better able to identify those ads and ignore them. Basically, things that look like ads aren't clicked nearly as often as things that look like part of the page. Users are responding appropriately that they don't like ads that smack them in the face. This is something we have understood for sometime but not to the extent at which it happens. Experts weigh in on the results of the study and there experience with placing contextual ads on websites.
Scottie discusses that the "second part of the study that showed higher clickthrough rates on a text link vs an image button were really interesting"
Despite the results of the study, Ian McAnerin chimes in and says:
Basically, my understanding is that the more you disguise the ad so that it looks like the content that the readers trust, the more likely they are to click on it.
I see that as a violation of trust, not smart marketing, sorry. Ad Cloaking, if you will.
He makes some good points, but what is a marketer to do?
Jbrookin makes some great observations
At no point was any ad created to be deceptive. We just simply removed the flashiness, or rather designed the ad with the advertising site in mind. What we determined is that users seem to automatically ignore anything that appears out of place, so by removing that barrier, we got a greater amount of consideration.
Continued discussion at HighRankings Forum - Users Don't Like Ads In Their Face