Every day, users are bombarded with animated ads across the Web, and companies fight to cut through the clutter. New research from the University at Buffalo School of Management has pinpointed one attribute online ads should have to influence consumers’ perceptions of a new product—and their willingness to pay for it.
Consumers who see a Web ad in which the product changes direction while moving across the screen are more likely to perceive the product as innovative, according to forthcoming research in the Journal of Marketing.
“Psychologically, we don’t expect inanimate objects to be able to change directions,” says co-author Arun Lakshmanan, PhD, assistant professor of marketing in the UB School of Management. “As a result, when we see something do that in an advertisement, it stands out as atypical and causes us to make judgments instantaneously about the product’s novelty, without even thinking about it.”
Product novelty is critical for success in the marketplace. Research shows that products perceived as innovative are adopted faster by consumers and bring in higher profits.
In a series of studies, more than 740 consumers viewed fictitious Web ads for such products as tablets, smartphones and cameras. The researchers monitored their attention and asked them to rate the product’s innovativeness.
“We found dynamic ads are more attention-grabbing than static ads,” Lakshmanan says. “But to impact consumer perceptions of product novelty, attracting attention is not enough.”
The research, led by UB School of Management doctoral student Junghan Kim, showed that ads in which the product changes direction, defined in advertising as kinetic property, influence consumer perceptions of product innovation more than static ads or ads with other moving elements.
In addition, the researchers found the effect of kinetic property on consumer perceptions is strongest in products with small improvements, as opposed to radical innovations, and those in fast-changing industries like technology and fashion.
“The majority of new products are brand extensions or products with incremental changes from previous versions,” Lakshmanan says. “For marketers, particularly those working with smaller companies and low-budget brands, kinetic property offers a robust, subtle and powerful mechanism to communicate product innovation and influence consumer attitudes.”
Conversely, the study found the novelty-enhancing effect of kinetic property is lost when consumers viewed multiple animated ads in a row or watched an ad with too many moving elements. The researchers advise advertisers to use behavioral targeting to determine when and where to position animated ads to maximize their effectiveness.