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The influence of dynamic content on visual attention during television commercials

Wooley, Brooke (2015) The influence of dynamic content on visual attention during television commercials. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The way in which humans visually comprehend dynamic stimuli is largely unexplored, however, understanding this process is crucial in order to better inform existing eye movement research. Unfortunately, due to the complex nature of dynamic content, it becomes difficult to distinguish which characteristics affect visual attention. In an attempt to identify elements that attract visual attention during dynamic stimuli, the present study used eye tracking technology to examine eye movement data from 37 American participants (mean age = 36.92) collected during the presentation of 34 randomly selected Australian commercials. It was important that novel stimuli were used in this study in order that participants’ eye movements were not influenced by prior exposure to the commercials. A content analysis of the visual elements present in each advertisement was conducted to identify characteristics that might impact eye movements. This content analysis resulted in a total of 606 scenes and 2,695 Areas Of Interest (AOIs) that were then further coded for their visual components (i.e., pixel size, color makeup, location, luminosity etc.) across 299 variables (translating into 141,015 fields in the coding database). Two regression analyses were run to identify which visual characteristics captured and/or sustained visual attention. Results revealed that items containing highly relevant visual elements (i.e., faces, products, branding elements), as well as highly salient features (i.e., large size, location, text) were more likely to acquire visual attention. Additionally, except for Faces, Logos and Products, the presence of visual clutter negatively impacted the ability for many AOIs to acquire and/or sustain visual attention. Furthermore, the effect of contrast was a significant predictor of visual attention in dynamic content, as well as AOIs growing in size, moving up or down, or appearing in a centralized location. Results from this study effectively contribute to existing eye movement and advertising effectiveness research and serve as a launch pad for future research using eye tracking with dynamic content.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Audience Research Labs
Supervisor: Varan, Duane and Bellman, Steven
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