In 1994, five designers were assigned the ignominious task of designing the world’s first banner ad, a design journey detailed over at Fast Companyhere. Twenty years later, those designers’ kids could very well work as low-level ad agency interns, cranking out banner ads by the dozen.
That’s right. We’re now entering the second generation of designers who have had to work their way up the ranks by cranking out banner ads. Twenty years of our youngest, most beautiful, and most promising designers being forced to close their eyes, think of the (ad) empire, and spew forth children that are the graphic design equivalent of the hideous, bandage-wrapped baby from Eraserhead: hideous, wailing, soul-sucking mutants that could never give a moment’s joy to anyone.
Only 0.08% of all banner ads shown get clicked on. In fact, thanks to widespread solutions like AdBlock Plus, most banner ads never even get seen. Pity the young intern designer, then, trying to jumpstart his or her career creating designs that there’s a 99.92% chance will never been seen. Imagine if you were forced by circumstance into prostitution, even though you knew that only 0.08% of your clients ever achieved orgasm. Statistically, that would mean have a 99.92% chance of being fucked over forever.
Can you imagine anything more hopeless? How many potential Otl Aichers, Michael Beiruts, Nevil Brodys, Chip Kidds, or Milton Glasers have given up graphic design entirely after spending the first few years of their careers shitting out Adult Friend Finder leaderboards? Yet this has been going on for two decades now.
You know what the banner ad being 20 years old means? That means it’s a fucking millennial. They have so many traits in common. They’re ineffectual! They’re a waste of space! They’re materialistic! They’re entitled! And everyone hates them!
Thankfully, there’s hope. If you want to call it hope. Banner ads are on the decline. Ads integrated into content are the future. That means the slaving, low-level graphic design intern of tomorrow might have a slightly better chance of having their designs seen. At least until we figure out a way to ignore their work all over again.