Research

The Economics of Attention

This area of knowledge comprises advertising, digital marketing and attentional economics – i.e., the market principles of how to buy, sell, capture and use consumer attention effectively to acquire, and engage consumers in order to build brands cheaply. Some academic research articles and publications follow. For trade press and non-academic articles, go to NEWS.

How to Profit From “Lean Advertising"

by Thales S. Teixeira

  • Publication Date: 1 August 2015
  • Publication Type: Article

Online video offers a way to achieve higher engagement with consumers for far less money. Because viewers actively choose online videos, they watch them more attentively than they watch TV ads.

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Television Advertising and Online Shopping

by Jura Liaukonyte, Thales Teixeira, Kenneth C. Wilbur

  • Publication Date: 1 October 2014
  • Publication Type: Academic Paper

Media multitasking competes with television advertising for consumers’ attention, but may also facilitate immediate and measurable response to some advertisements. This paper explores whether and how tele- vision advertising influences online shopping. We construct a massive data set spanning $3.4 billion in spending by 20 brands, measures of brands’ website traffic and transactions, and ad content measures for 1,224 com- mercials. We use a quasi-experimental design to estimate whether and how TV advertising influences changes in online shopping within two-minute pre/post windows of time. We use nonadvertising competitors’ online shopping in a difference-in-differences approach to measure the same effects in two-hour windows around the time of the ad. The findings indicate that television advertising does influence online shopping and that adver- tising content plays a key role. Action-focus content increases direct website traffic and sales. Information-focus and emotion-focus ad content actually reduce website traffic while simultaneously increasing purchases, with a positive net effect on sales for most brands. These results imply that brands seeking to attract multitaskers’ attention and dollars must select their advertising copy carefully.

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Why, When, and How Much to Entertain Consumers in Advertisements? A Web-Based Facial Tracking Field Study

by Thales Teixeira, Rosalind Picard, Rana el Kaliouby

  • Publication Date: 1 January 2014
  • Publication Type: Academic Paper

The presence of positive entertainment (e.g., visual imagery, upbeat music, humor) in TV advertisements can make them more attractive and persuasive. However, little is known about the downside of too much entertainment. This research focuses on why, when, and how much to entertain consumers in TV advertisements. We collected data in a large scale field study using 82 ads with various levels of entertainment shown to 178 consumers in their homes and workplaces. Using a novel web-based face tracking system, we continuously measure consumers’ smile responses, viewing interest, and purchase intent. A simultaneous Bayesian hierarchical model is estimated to assess how different levels of entertainment affect purchases by endogenizing viewing interest. We find that entertainment has an inverted U-shape relationship to purchase intent. Importantly, we separate entertainment into that which comes before the brand versus that which comes after, and find that the latter is positively associated with purchase intent while the former is not.

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Optimizing the Amount of Entertainment in Advertising

by Thales S. Teixeira, Horst Stipp

  • Publication Date: 1 September 2013
  • Publication Type: Article

In the age of multi-media and multi-tasking, of advertising clutter and DVRs, finding ways to get consumers to pay attention has become a primary focus of advertisers. Providing entertainment in ads is regarded as an effective approach to capture the consumers’ initial attention and interest in viewing the entire ad (Woltman Elpers, Wedel, and Pieters, 2003). It was not always like this. Comparing commercials from the early days of television with today’s TV advertising, it is evident that most television ads in the fifties or sixties demonstrated product features and concentrated on “selling.”

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Emotion-Induced Engagement in Internet Video Advertisements

by Thales S. Teixeira, Michel Wedel, Rik Pieters

  • Publication Date: 19 January 2011
  • Publication Type: Academic Paper

This study shows how advertisers can leverage emotion and attention to engage consumers in watching Internet video advertisements. In a controlled experiment, the authors assessed joy and surprise through automated facial expression detection for a sample of advertisements. They assessed concentration of attention through eye tracking and viewer retention by recording zapping behavior. This allows tests of predictions about the interplay of these emotions and interperson attention differences at each point in time during exposure. Surprise and joy effectively concentrate attention and retain viewers. However, importantly, the level rather than the velocity of surprise affects attention concentration most, whereas the velocity rather than the level of joy affects viewer retention most. The effect of joy is asymmetric, with higher gains for increases than losses for decreases. Using these findings, the authors develop representative emotion trajectories to support ad design and testing.

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