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Online newspapers and ad banners: an eye tracking study on the effects of congruity

Marco Porta (Dipartimento di Informatica e Sistemistica, Università di Pavia, Pavia, Italy)
Alice Ravarelli (Dipartimento di Informatica e Sistemistica, Università di Pavia, Pavia, Italy)
Francesco Spaghi (Dipartimento di Informatica e Sistemistica, Università di Pavia, Pavia, Italy)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 14 June 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the possible influence of congruity on the way ad banners are watched and remembered in online newspapers.

Design/methodology/approach

The effects of the thematic connection between banner subject and article content are examined at the level of gaze behaviour using eye tracking technology, while questionnaires are exploited to assess both free and helped recall. Two “kinds of reading” are also considered, namely “imposed” (where the tester has to read a specific article) and “free” (where the tester can choose the article's topic from a set).

Findings

Results indicate that congruity matters for the way banners are looked at, although it seems to have a limited influence on memory. Moreover, the kind of reading is significant in a few cases.

Practical implications

The design of ad banners for web content is very critical, due to the so‐called “banner blindness” phenomenon. At the same time, ad banners are crucial for online newspapers, which rely on them as the main source of revenues. Understanding the potential of congruity is therefore an essential point.

Originality/value

Results to date obtained from previous research about congruity between online content and ad banners are contrasting, and further investigations are thus necessary. Moreover, in the context of online newspapers, congruity has been considered in extremely few cases and, to the best of the authors' knowledge, without using eye tracking technology. The outcomes of this study can be exploited to drive further research in the field.

Keywords

Citation

Porta, M., Ravarelli, A. and Spaghi, F. (2013), "Online newspapers and ad banners: an eye tracking study on the effects of congruity", Online Information Review, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 405-423. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-01-2012-0001

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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