Two critical aspects of ad effectiveness are attention and engagement. Greater attention coupled with greater engagement leads to greater brand recall and purchase intent. But in this distracting and fragmented media world, these metrics have been difficult to quantify and measure. How does a marketer capture consumer attention to an ad and make a positive connection with that consumer to the product advertised?
In a recent study soon to be published by the Journal of Advertising Research(JAR), researchers at the Université de Rennes have been able to quantify ad affinity by taking into account the direction of the facial gaze of the model in a print ad using eye tracking. Eye tracking is a sensor technology that follows the movement of the eye to determine the level of attention and focus on stimuli.
Three types of ads for gender-neutral products were embedded in the same bottom right-hand page position within editorial content. One ad had only the product, the second had the product with the model gazing directly at the reader and the third had the model gazing at the product.
The results show that the presence of a face in a print ad as well as the direction of the model’s gaze impacts the viewer’s retention and favorability towards the ad and product.
That people are more attentive to faces (and eyes in particular) than to non-facial stimuli has been proven out through studies of both babies and adults. The takeaways have important implications for advertisers:
- Having a human face in the ad increases the attention paid to all the advertisement elements including a product and brand. The product receives even more attention when the model’s gaze direction is toward the product, versus toward the viewer.
- Having a human face that is gazing at the product itself is the best combination to improve product and brand memorization, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention.
- Objective attention measures such as eye tracking are helpful testing tools to ascertain attention, recall and engagement and are therefore of great benefit to brand managers.
Donato, P. (2018, April 6). Here’s Looking at You: The Impact of Facial Gaze on Print Ad Effectiveness. MediaPost.
Editor’s note: From MediaPost’s The Marketing Insider – commentary from ARF Chief Research Officer, Paul Donato.