TV advertisements could be effective when seen with little attention

June 15th, 2010 by James

TV advertisements could be effective when seen with little attentionAccording to a new research from the University of Bath, viewers pay less attention to creative television ads but could make themselves more vulnerable to message by the advertiser.

The study, published in the Journal of Advertising Research, made use of an eye-tracking device for measuring the real-time attention paid to a range of advertisements with different levels of emotional content.

From Sciencedaily.com:

Dr Robert Heath, from the University’s School of Management, who led the research team, said: “There has been a lot of research which shows that creative TV ads are more effective than those which simply deliver information, and it has always been assumed that it is because viewers pay more attention to them.

“But in a relaxed situation like TV watching, attention tends to be used mainly as a defence mechanism. If an ad bombards us with new information, our natural response is to pay attention so we can counter-argue what it is telling us. On the other hand, if we feel we like and enjoy an ad, we tend to be more trustful of it and therefore we don’t feel we need to pay too much attention to it.

“The sting in the tail is that by paying less attention, we are less able to counter-argue what the ad is communicating. In effect we let our guard down and leave ourselves more open to the advertiser’s message.

“This has serious implications for certain categories of ads, particularly ads for products that can be harmful to our health, and products aimed at children.

The research was carried out in conjunction with Dr Agnes Nairn, Professor of Marketing at EM-Lyon Business School and Research Fellow at the University of Bath’s School of Management, and Dr Paul Bottomley, Distinguished Research Fellow at Cardiff University’s Business School.

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