Thursday, December 10, 2009

Research Creates Better Strategies for Web Advertising

In the early days of television, advertisers had no idea how to capture audience attention in the new medium. The only precursor to TV advertising was print or radio ads, so they did the best they could to use those experiences and apply them to an entirely new focus.

Today, we’re looking at a similar problem with web advertising. We know print ads. We know TV ads. But do we know web ads?

Research being conducted by the Walt Disney Company suggests that we don’t know it nearly as well as we think. In the research labs, volunteers are asked to scroll through websites while researchers observe them through one-way glass, recording the movements of their eyes as they track objects and text on the screen. One ad catches the reader’s attention. Another goes by unnoticed. What made the difference?

That’s what the Disney researchers are attempting to discover.

Their methods are fairly straightforward, trying out different combinations of ad types and sizes in different places on the web page to see which are most effective at capturing and holding attention. The research also includes keeping records of heart rate, skin temperature, and facial expressions so that enthusiasm can be recorded.

The Starcom MediaVest Group considers Disney’s research “invaluable,” and Allstate, Kellogg and Bank of America are also getting in on the action.