Advertisers are “often wrong about what attracts our attention” is the conclusion of a usability study looking at how users interact with online advertising.
The study, published in the report Eyetracking Web Usability by the Nielsen Norman Group (a usability consultancy firm from Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice), suggests that text-only advertising is the most effective advertising method for many websites.
Do you think you’re more likely to look at an online ad if it contains 1) a picture, 2) an animation or 3) just text? The answer: just text. [â€¦]
The headline result: simpler is better (not to mention probably cheaper to produce). Participants in the study looked at 52% of ads that contained only text, 52% of ads that had images and text separately and 51% of sponsored links on search-engine pages. Ads that got a lot less attention included those that imposed text on top of images (people looked at just 35% of those) and ones that included animation (it might seem movement is attention-grabbing, but only 29% of these ads garnered a look). [â€¦]
People in the study saw 36% of the ads on the pages they visited â€” not a bad hit rate. The average time a person spent looking at an ad, though, was brief â€” one-third of a second.
This is an evolution of what Nielsen called banner blindness, right?
In profiling a number of ‘online journalism entrepreneurs’, The New York Times does a good job of providing a relatively clichÃ©-free, high-level overview of the current state of online news publishing.
The article looks at the “new breed” of blog-based journalists, a few business models, and the problems associated with advertising online.
There’s nothing new here for those who already have a passing interest in publishing (or blogging, for that matter), but I did find this observation on web-based entrepreneurship rather nice:
You can’t call it a dot-com boom â€” there is not much capital, there are no parties with catered sushi and no one is expecting to get rich. But this generation of start-ups does share at least one trait with its 1990s predecessors: a conviction that they’re the vanguard of an unfolding revolution.
via More Intelligent Life
Food advertising does much more than influence our brand preferences; it also ‘primes’ automatic eating behaviours, contributing to overall and longer-term weight gain.
This is the conclusion of a recent study into whether food advertising (of both the healthy and non-healthy kind) can trigger unconscious snacking by leading our thoughts toward hunger and food.
Children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising. Adults consumed more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising compared to the other conditions. In both experiments, food advertising increased consumption of products not in the presented advertisements, and these effects were not related to reported hunger or other conscious influences.
Ryan Sager considers the research rationally and wonders what this means to the future of food advertising (political impotence):
I’m sure the public-health community probably sees this as a nice rationale for banning food ads of any kind. But I think it points to a more basic truth that underlies why trying to control things like this is useless: We’re constantly influenced by subconscious effects like this. [â€¦] There are a million things that can prime you to mindless eating. The individual just has to be aware of this and maybe not have snacks at hand at all times.
Whatever one’s individual strategy, trying to control such influences at the societal level is most likely pointless.
By varying the language used in a sentence at the end of his articles, Dustin Curtis increased click-through rates to his Twitter profile by 173%.
Dustin describes his multivariate (‘split’) testing of different call to action sentences, revealing the most persuasive, in a visually excellent article.
This puts me in mind of how both Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi tested various titles for their products; The 4-Hour Workweek and I Will Teach You To Be Rich respectively.
While we’re on the subject;
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Mark Hurst, author of Bit Literacy and host of the Gel conference, takes a look at Microsoft’s Bing and discusses the problem with Microsoft’s current strategy and ways they can improve.
Customers online don’t respond to a brand marketed to them, they respond to the experience they have. If they can accomplish their goal quickly and easily, they return to the site, and tell their friends. It’s that simple. And if one site already provides a good experience, then there’s no need to consider switching to some other site, no matter what the company brags about itself in its ads.
In the context of what’s being discussed (Microsoft’s recent advertising) I couldn’t agree more with the above sentiments (out of context, however, I feel it’s not entirely accurate).