Pieters. Wedel. Attention capute and transfer in advertising, brand, pictorial, and textsize effects

Pieters. Wedel. Attention capute and transfer in advertising, brand, pictorial, and textsize effects

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36 / Journal of Marketing, April 2004 Journal of Marketing Vol. 68 (April 2004), 36–50 Rik Pieters & Michel Wedel Attention Capture and Transfer in Advertising: Brand, Pictorial, and Text-Size Effects The three key ad elements (brand, pictorial, and text) each have unique superiority effects on attention to adver- tisements, which are on par with many commonly held ideas in marketing practice. This is the main conclusion of an analysis of 1363 print advertisements tested with infrared eye-tracking methodology on more than 3600 con- sumers. The pictorial is superior in capturing attention, independent of its size. The text element best captures attention in direct proportion to its surface size. The brand element most effectively transfers attention to the other elements. Only increments in the text element’s surface size produce a net gain in attention to the advertisement as a whole. The authors discuss how their findings can be used to render more effective decisions in advertising. Rik Pieters is Professor of Marketing, Marketing Department, Tilburg Uni- versity (e-mail: [email protected]). Michel Wedel is Professor of Marketing, University of Michigan Business School (e-mail: [email protected]). The authors thank Dominique Claessens and Chris Huijnen of Verify Inter- national for the eye-tracking data. M agazines are an important advertising medium, as illustrated by their projected 13% share of ad spending in 2003 in the United States and the even greater shares in countries such as France (32%), Germany (24%), Italy (15%), the Netherlands (27%), and the United Kingdom (16%) (International Federation of the Periodical Press 2003). To reach consumers effectively and to commu- nicate with them, print advertisements need to cut through the clutter of competing advertisements and editorial mes- sages. Because the typical magazine contains more than 50% advertising, consumers cannot fully absorb all the advertising and editorial content. Failures to capture con- sumers’ attention (i.e., to attract and retain it) reduce the effective reach of print advertising, thereby increasing the cost-per-thousand and jeopardizing the attainment of long- term communication and marketing goals. Because compet- itive clutter is on the rise, some industry experts argue that “the power of marketing is eroding … from lack of atten- tion” (Sacharin 2001, p. 3). Attention has been referred to as the scarcest resource in today’s business (Adler and Fire- stone 1997; Davenport and Beck 2001). This makes the cap- ture of consumers’ attention an increasingly important aim for print advertising. The general belief underlying print advertising tactics is that size matters: larger advertisements attract and retain more attention, and the larger an advertisement’s brand, pic- torial, and text elements, the more attention they should cap- ture. However, the precise attention effects of brand, pictor- ial, and text sizes have been vigorously debated (Aitchinson 1999; Maloney 1994; Moriarty 1986; Rossiter and Percy 1997) but rarely empirically studied. Much is known about
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