Is banner blindness genuine? Eye tracking internet text advertising



Over the last decade or so, the Internet has become a privileged media for advertisement. Despite this increase in popularity, several studies suggested that Internet users ‘avoid’ looking at ads (what is often referred to as the banner blindness phenomena). This conclusion, however, rests mostly on indirect evidence that participants do not remember the ad content. Therefore, it is unclear whether participants actually fixated the ads and how their gaze behaviour is related to memory for the ad. In the present study, we investigated whether Internet users avoid looking at ads inserted on a non-search website using an analysis of eye movements, and if the ad content is kept in memory. Our results show that most participants fixate the ads at least once during their website visit. Moreover, even though the congruency between the ad and the editorial content had no effect on fixation duration on the ad, congruent ads were better memorised than incongruent ads. This study provides a novel and systematic method for assessing the processing and retention of advertisements during a website visit. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.