The Impact of ConsumerNavigation Behaviour on VisualAttention to Online Advertising

University essay from KTH/Skolan för datavetenskap och kommunikation (CSC)

Author: Teresia SchullstrÖm; [2013]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: The wide use of Internet has opened up many opportunities for advertisers. This has resulted in a multitude of ads in different format and contexts on everything from entertainment sites and online newspapers to search engine result pages (SERPs) and e-commerce websites. However, it has been shown that when surfing online, the consumers are more engaged in the current task and thereby also more goal directed than when consuming traditional media. This has, in combination with cluttered websites and ads sharing bandwidth with content, resulted in the phenomenon banner blindness, which indicates that consumers purposefully ignores everything that looks like advertising. A factor that in previous studies has shown to have a large impact on the allocation of visual attention on a website is the consumer’s current task, which directly affects their navigation behaviour on the website. A consumer that is browsing apply a different behaviour and is affected by other factors in the visual scene than a consumer that knows what s/he wants and therefore uses goal directed search as the searching strategy. Through a literature study and an eye tracking experiment this thesis investigates the impact of the consumer’s task on visual attention to advertising on websites, with the focus on internal advertising (merchandising ads) on e-commerce websites. The tasks used in the eye tracking methodology were designed to create a more realistic visual navigation behaviour compared to previous studies in the field. The results show that when browsing, the consumers are generally more receptive to peripheral stimuli, which in many cases also includes advertising. When the consumer has a specific goal in mind, s/he gets more goal directed and uses stored searching strategies to efficiently find the wanted target and/or clues about where the target can be located. The visual behaviour is thereby controlled by higher cortical centres and does not get affected by peripheral stimuli in the same extent as when the consumer is browsing. It was also found that it is very challenging to create a natural browsing behaviour in a study environment. This is due to several factors and is a very critical problem for studies investigating visual attention since a realistic task is the key to create realistic behaviour and thereby also an accurate and usable result.

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