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How Modern Advertising Informs Eye Gaze Direction

Relevant topics Archive, Advertising

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    When the advertisement model’s gaze is averted (looking away from the viewer), the viewer is more readily transported into the ad narrative and responds more favorably to the ad than when the ad model’s gaze is direct (looking directly at the viewer).
  • Application:
    Favorability towards an ad increases when the ad model’s gaze is looking away from the viewer.
  • Globally, the average person is exposed to around 4,000-10,000 advertisements every day. This number comes primarily from various forms of media and the internet. While this means that advertisers have more ways to connect with consumers, it’s important to remember that an ad’s presence doesn’t mean much if there is no conversion.

    To ensure that their advertising strategies are more meaningful, memorable, and effective, many advertisers are harnessing tactics that focus on capturing the consumer. More specifically, their eye gaze.

    Why Advertisers Are Prioritizing Eye Gaze

    The amount of new information a consumer is exposed to has doubled over the past decade. The Guardian shares that this has resulted in consumers becoming more discerning and less attentive. Thus, it’s important for advertisers to create strategies that make an immediate impact. As explained by New York Times bestselling author Jonah Berger in “The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind”, effective marketing doesn’t bombard the consumer with information. Rather, it serves as a catalyst that gets them to act in favor of the service. By planning their advertising strategies around the consumer’s eye gaze, advertisers can successfully do this.

    By focusing on eye gaze, advertisers can catch their audience’s attention, trigger interest, and influence conversions. In fact, in the 2021 study ‘Online Advertising Suppresses Visual Competition during Planned Purchases’, respondents determined that having an online ad with an eye-catching image improved search speed by 25%. This highlights how capturing consumer eye gaze can positively streamline transactions. Specifically, this revealed that ads displaying the product image captured consumer eye gaze, which in turn, reduced the amount of time and attention spent on competing products.

    How to Tap The Power of Eye Gaze

    So just how do advertisers do this today? It’s more than creating a beautiful picture and shoving it in consumers’ faces. Tapping the power of eye gaze is much more subtle and nuanced.

    In television, for example, this is often done via product placement. As we discussed here on New Neuromarketing, this is when James Bond drives his Aston Martin or when the judges on American Idol have Coca-Cola tumblers on their tables. Instead of just presenting products in a commercial, having a brand placed within a frame and in use is much more effective. Not only does this naturally pull the eye to the product. It also presents an appealing usage occasion.

    Another way that advertisers inform consumer eye gaze is by purposely setting up the visual journey in a way that almost “serendipitously” seems to lead them to the brand or product. This is most often done in visual merchandising executions or online ads. To do this effectively, advertising professionals have been using eye-tracking since the 1980s. According to “Eye-tracking in Marketing Research”, advertisers can note where a consumer’s eyes dart and settle using sensors. Having this information is akin to seeing directly from the consumers’ perspective—what they like to look at, what catches their eye, and what they avoid altogether. In many cases, eye tracking is complemented with other traditional market research methods to determine an approach for the target market and product.

    Last but not the least, eye gaze is also influenced by how advertising collaterals are designed. This is often done with regard to the font size, the composition of the foreground and background, and the directionality from which the image components are arranged. To illustrate, one of the most common ways to achieve this is by using a model. As discussed on Psychology Today, the model’s eye gaze provides “strategic cues”. An averted gaze appeals to the consumers’ emotions, while a direct gaze stimulates the more rational side. Hence, when a nostalgic-looking model is looking off-camera towards a holiday feast, consumers are automatically more emotionally invested and compelled to follow the model’s eye line towards whatever product they’re looking at.

    As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. But in today’s fast-paced and competitive age, the best way for advertisers to stay relevant is not just to make ads that are seen, but to also influence how the audience sees them.

  • How Modern Advertising Informs Eye Gaze Direction
  • Reference:

    To, R. N., & Patrick, V. M. (2021). How the Eyes Connect to the Heart: The Influence of Eye Gaze Direction on Advertising Effectiveness. Journal of Consumer Research, 48(1), 123–146. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa063

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