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Influence of dynamic content on visual attention during video advertisements

Wooley, B., Bellman, S., Hartnett, N., Rask, A. and Varan, D. (2022) Influence of dynamic content on visual attention during video advertisements. European Journal of Marketing, 56 (13). pp. 137-166.

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Dynamic advertising, including television and online video ads, demands new theory and tools developed to understand attention to moving stimuli. The purpose of this study is to empirically test the predictions of a new dynamic attention theory, Dynamic Human-Centred Communication Systems Theory, versus the predictions of salience theory.

An eye-tracking study used a sample of consumers to measure visual attention to potential areas of interest (AOIs) in a random selection of unfamiliar video ads. An eye-tracking software feature called intelligent bounding boxes (IBBs) was used to track attention to moving AOIs. AOIs were coded for the presence of static salience variables (size, brightness, colour and clutter) and dynamic attention theory dimensions (imminence, motivational relevance, task relevance and stability).


Static salience variables contributed 90% of explained variance in fixation and 57% in fixation duration. However, the data further supported the three-way interaction uniquely predicted by dynamic attention theory: between imminence (central vs peripheral), relevance (motivational or task relevant vs not) and stability (fleeting vs stable). The findings of this study indicate that viewers treat dynamic stimuli like real life, paying less attention to central, relevant and stable AOIs, which are available across time and space in the environment and so do not need to be memorised.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the limitations of small samples of consumers and video ads, the results of this study demonstrate the potential of two relatively recent innovations, which have received limited emphasis in the marketing literature: dynamic attention theory and IBBs.

Practical implications

This study documents what does and does not attract attention to video advertising. What gets attention according to salience theory (e.g. central location) may not always get attention in dynamic advertising because of the effects of relevance and stability. To better understand how to execute video advertising to direct and retain attention to important AOIs, advertisers and advertising researchers are encouraged to use IBBs.


This study makes two original contributions: to marketing theory, by showing how dynamic attention theory can predict attention to video advertising better than salience theory, and to marketing research, showing the utility of tracking visual attention to moving objects in video advertising with IBBs, which appear underutilised in advertising research.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
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