Banner blindness, when users simply ignore anything that looks like an ad, is well documents in web design research. Nielsen, in his 9/4/2007 Alertbox  finds the blindness not only applies to banners, but also highly formatted (designed) areas of a website because they look like ads (what does it say that the highly formatted parts of websites are assumed to be ads by our users?).  Here is some interesting info from his study:
-86% of users failed to find the task information (which was huge and in red) because it looked like an ad.
-the tracking heatmap showed most users looked at the information they needed, but they only scanned it. They did not read it nor realize this is what they wanted.

So the lesson here is to not use fancy designs that might look like advertisements. Also, this info was on the right side in a big box, which further made it look like and ad.

Something to say?