Emotional Responses to Web Advertising: The Effects of Animation, Position, and Product Involvement on Physiological Arousal
 
Student Researcher

Nokon Heo (PhD Student)

Faculty supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

For a complete report of this research, see:

Heo, N., & Sundar, S. S. (2000, August). Emotional responses to web advertising: The effects of animation, position, and product involvement on physiological arousal. Paper presented to the Advertising Division at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Phoenix, AZ.

Introduction

Despite the Internet's increasing popularity and potential as an advertising medium, advertisers are uncertain about the effectiveness of Web advertising in gaining user attention. It is generally known that only very few online users actually click the banner ads. Today's Web advertisers are increasingly using animation in their banner ads to attract viewers' attention. And typically, those banner ads are scattered all parts of the Web page, which raises a concern for ad clutter. In this study, we examined whether the new medium can actually provide a vehicle for effective commercial communication. More specifically, this study investigated psychological effects of ad animation, ad position, and product involvement within the context of Web advertising.

Hypotheses

H1: Animated ads will elicit greater skin conductance response (SCR) than static ads.

H2: Ads positioned near the top of the page will elicit greater skin conductance response (SCR) than those near the end of the page.

H3: Animated ads will elicit greater skin conductance response (SCR) when they are positioned near the top of the page than animated ads positioned near the bottom of the page.

H4: Animated ads will elicit greater skin conductance response (SCR) than static ads if they feature a low involvement product compared to a high involvement product.

Method

Fifty-six participants were randomly assigned to one of four orders of a 2 (animation) x 2 (position) x 2 (involvement) within-participants factorial experiment. Eight separate news Web pages were created, each featuring a story and a banner ad. Eight News Stories were selected from existing news Web pages. Of the eight banner ads, four were animated and four were static. Half of the ads were positioned at the top and the other half were positioned at the bottom. Half of the ads featured high involvement products and the other half featured low involvement products. The dependent variable, emotional response, was operationalized by physiological arousal and measured by the magnitude of skin conductance responses (SCRs) as participants viewed the web pages.

Results

H1. Supported. Animated ads elicited greater skin conductance response (SCR) than static ads.

H2. Supported. Ads positioned near the top of the page elicited greater skin conductance response (SCR) than those near the end of the page.

H3. Supported. Animated ads elicited greater skin conductance response (SCR) when they are positioned near the top of the page than animated ads positioned near the bottom of the page.


H4. Supported. Animated ads will elicit greater skin conductance response (SCR) than static ads if they feature a low involvement product compared to a high involvement product.

Conclusion

The findings from the study suggest that ad animation, position, and product involvement are important ad characteristics that can generate strong emotions in viewers. Physiological measure of arousal measured by SCRs can be an alternative measurement tool for advertising effectiveness. Combining certain product and presentation characteristics also seem to serve to promote the persuasiveness of online commercial communications.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University