In online ads, products that change direction while moving across the screen come across as more innovative, according to new research.
“Psychologically, we don’t expect inanimate objects to be able to change directions,” says coauthor Arun Lakshmanan, assistant professor of marketing in the University at Buffalo 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 consumers adopt products perceived as innovative faster and that they bring in higher profits.
In a series of studies, more than 740 consumers viewed fictitious web ads for products such 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 doctoral student Junghan Kim, shows that the effect of changing directions, called “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 goes away 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.
The findings appear in the Journal of Marketing.