What's up? Exploring Upper and Lower Visual Field Advertising Effects

Kendall Goodrich

Wright State University


Attention has been defined as “the process by which an individual allocates part of his or her cognitive resources (mental capacity) to a stimulus” (Hoyer and MacInnis, 1997). The marketing importance of attention has been demonstrated by its inclusion in major advertising and cognition models (e.g., AIDA, Strong, 1925; hierarchy of effects, Lavidge and Steiner, 1961; Palda, 1966).

However, most advertising goes unnoticed (Grunert, 1996) because of limitations on attention. Millions of bits of data per second travel down the optic nerve, far exceeding the brain’s capacity for conscious processing (Itti and Koch, 2000).

One battleground for consumer attention is the high-growth medium of the Internet (online ad revenues totaled $16.8 billion in 2006, up 34% over 2005; Interactive Advertising Bureau [IAB], 2007). Important areas of Internet advertising growth are display (banner) ads, for which revenues are expected to grow by 16.9% annually from 2006 to 2011 (Veronis Suhler Stevenson, 2007), alternate delivery mechanisms such as ad word placement, search engines, and e-mail, and rapid growth venues such as blogs and social networks. The focus of this study is on banner ads, which are still popular despite average click-through rates (for standard image banner ads) of only between 0.1 and 0.2 percent (DoubleClick, 2007). Perhaps advertisers continue to use online ads because of “branding” benefits (Briggs and Hollis, 1997), despite lack of attention (Yoo, 2005) or recall (Fang, Singh, and Ahluwalia, 2007). Given the size and continued growth of the banner advertising market, it is important to better understand the effects of banner advertising on multiple advertising outcomes, as small positive changes could potentially increase industry revenues by millions of dollars.