Arousal, Memory, and Impression-Formation Effects of Animation Speed
in Web Advertising
Sriram Kalyanaraman (PhD Student)
Christine Martin (BA Student)
Carson B Wagner (PhD Student, University of Colorado)
Dr. S. Shyam Sundar
For a complete report of this research, see:
Sundar, S. S., Kalyanaraman, S., Martin, C., & Wagner, C. B. (2001,
May). Arousal, memory, and impression-formation effects of animation speed
in Web advertising. Paper presented to the Information Systems Division
at the 51st annual conference of the International Communication Association
(ICA), Washington DC.
Animated advertisements on the Web come in a variety of shapes, sizes
and colors. But, they also animate at different speeds. While recent studies
have shown animated ads to be more effective than still ads, the role
played by the rate of motion in animated ads has been neglected. Given
that the primary function of animation is to attract attention, such differences
in speed of animation are likely to lead to differential levels of attention
to the ads. Researchers have pointed out that speed is an obvious component
of an interactive media system, and the degree to which it is realized
in an interaction is bound to determine one's psychological experience
with the system. An experiment was designed to address this issue by focusing
specifically on the physiological and psychological effects of animation
speeds in Web ads.
Several hypotheses, based on motion-effects, limited-capacity, and vividness-effects
theories, were proposed.
H1: Fast animation ads will elicit greater physiological arousal than
slow animation ads.
H2a: A slow animation ad will elicit greater physiological arousal when
it follows, rather than precedes, a fast animation ad.
H2b: A fast animation ad will elicit greater physiological arousal when
it follows, rather than precedes, a slow animation ad.
H3: Ad recognition for fast animation ads will be greater than ad recognition
for slow animation ads.
H4: Ad recall for fast animation ads will be lesser than ad recall for
slow animation ads.
H5a: A fast animation ad will elicit significantly greater positive impressions
of the website when it follows, rather than precedes, a slow animation
H5b: A slow animation ad will elicit significantly greater positive impressions
of the website when it precedes, rather than follows, a fast animation
Forty-seven participants in a 2 (Animation) X 2 (Sequence) mixed-factorial
experiment were exposed to two Web pages, each with a news story surrounded
by four online advertisements. The speed (fast, slow) with which the ads
were animated served as the within-participants factor, with the fast
animation ads averaging 55 animations/flashes per minute and the slow
animation ads averaging 21.5 animations/flashes per minute. The sequence
(fast, slow; slow, fast) in which participants were exposed to fast and
slow animation served as the between-participants factor. The primary
dependent variable, physiological arousal, was measured by on-line recordings
of skin conductance level (SCL). In addition, after exposure, participants
filled out a paper-and-pencil questionnaire eliciting their behavioral
intention toward the ads, their evaluation of the Web page as a whole,
and their memory for details in the news stories as well as the ads on
A series of 2x2 mixed ANOVAs was conducted with the two-category animation
speed (fast, slow) variable as the within-participants factor and the
two-category animation sequence variable (fast-slow, slow-fast) as the
H1: Supported. When the ANOVA was performed with arousal (as indicated
by percentage change in tonic skin conductance from baseline) as the dependent
variable, a significant main effect for speed emerged, with study participants
showing higher arousal levels while exposed to fast-animation ads than
while responding to slow-animation versions of the same ads.
H2a: Not supported. The page with slow animation ads elicited greater
arousal when it followed, rather than preceded, the page with fast animation
ads, but a post-hoc test failed to show a statistically significant differentiation
between these two means.
H2b: Supported. The Web page with fast animation ads elicited significantly
greater arousal when it followed, rather than preceded, the page with
slow animation ads.
H3: Not supported. There were no significant differences between the
two speeds on the recognition measure.
H4: Not supported. There were no significant differences between the
two speeds on the recall measure.
H5a: Not supported. The sequence in which participants were exposed to
the page with fast animation ads did not affect their impressions of the
H5b: Disconfirmed. Participants found the Web page with slow animation
ads more appealing when it was preceded by a page with fast animation
ads than when it was not.
In summary, results from this experiment offer support to the notion
that animation speed of Web ads is a psychologically relevant construct.
People's responses to animation speed, however, seem to be overwhelmingly
moderated by the sequence in which animation speeds are presented to them,
as evidenced by the presence of significant interaction between the speed
variable and the sequence variable on all analyses producing statistically
significant results. Specifically, results confirm the hypothesized ability
of fast animation ads to elicit significantly higher arousal then their
slow counterparts, particularly when the fast ads are preceded by slow
ones. However, on cognitive indicators and impression formation measures,
psychological responses to fast animation ads are relatively unaffected
by the sequence of presentation of ads with differential speeds whereas
responses to slow animation ads, in general, are more positive when they
are preceded by fast ads than when they are not.