Cuing customers to look at your key messages

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This is an example we have used for several years and came out of some very early research we did with JCDecaux, but we have never put it into a blog, so I thought I’d revisit it here.

In the research, one of the questions we were exploring was how visual attention can be directed through elements of an advertisement. One such cuing element we investigated was the models visual attention. Most beauty and hair care advertisements follow a basic template of the model looking out engaging with the viewer and a pack shot sharing a significant amount of the ad real estate also. An example of this is the Sunsilk advertisement below, along with a heatmap of 200 people viewing it.

Note that there is very little attention on the pack shot and brand logo. In fact just 6% of the people looked at the pack!

What happens if the model is engaging with the product rather than the viewer? We photoshopped the ad and turned the models eye to the pack shot. See the results below:

This tiny change had a profound effect. 84% of the viewers now looked at the pack! This is 14 times more people looking at the pack. You can also see that there is overall greater engagement with the ad, including more attention to the brand logo at the bottom.

I‘m not suggesting that every ad should have the model looking at the product or key message, but using the model’s gaze can be a very effective way of guiding the viewers gaze and communicating key messages.