Current Issue Summary
June 2021 (Vol. 61, Issue 2)
Superimposed Text Size and Contrast Effects in DTC TV Advertising: Which Presentation Format Is Best for Rx Drug Messaging to Consumers?
Because of space constraints in the typical 30-or-60-second, direct-to-consumer prescription-drug commercial, superimposed text descriptors or “supers,” are necessary for providing additional information. Existing research on the importance of supers’ formatting is either technologically out-of-date (e.g. not applicable to flat-screen TVs and other devices) or not focused on Rx drug advertising. Guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is vague: Supers should be “reasonably visible to a person under typical viewing condition” (nothing on text size), and “in a font color that reasonably contrasts with the background visuals.” The latter is based on thinking that “low contrast may minimize the prominence of disclosure and lead to a misleading risk presentation”—a claim this new study by the FDA and RTI International, counters.
The researchers tested the effects of device type, level of contrast and supers size in DTC commercials on several outcome measures. “There is reason to expect that variations in text size and contrast will cue supers as being more or less important in an advertisement,” according to Ryan S. Paquin (RTI International), Amie C. O’Donoghue (FDA’s Ofﬁce of Prescription Drug Promotion [OPDP] Center for Drug Evaluation and Research [CDER], Bridget J. Kelly (RTI International), Kevin R. Betts (FDA OPDP CDER) and RTI International’s Mihaela Johnson, Christine N. Davis, Alyssa Jordan and Peyton Williams.
The outcome measures were organized into three broad categories: awareness and encoding of the supers, fair-balance-related perceptions and attitudes. Three size levels of supers and two levels of background contrast were tested on more than 1,200 participants. Each participant watched different versions of a TV ad for a fictitious asthma drug on either a flat-screen TV or a tablet.
Among the findings:
- Larger supers were more noticeable and memorable than smaller supers.
- Small supers can minimize the perception of risk, relative to presentations of drug effectiveness.
- High-contrast supers were less noticeable than low-contrast, bucking earlier research, and tablet users had more favorable views of the ad.
- Replication studies should involve drugs for treating other illnesses than asthma, expand the aspects of supers and include time-on-screen and dual-modality issues.
- Future research also should test effects of supers on other devices, screen sizes and screen resolutions.
Read the full article here.