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Journal cover: Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122
Previously published as: Direct Marketing: An International Journal

Online from: 2010

Subject Area: Marketing

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Do users look at banner ads on Facebook?

Document Information:
Title:Do users look at banner ads on Facebook?
Author(s):Ana Margarida Barreto, (New University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Citation:Ana Margarida Barreto, (2013) "Do users look at banner ads on Facebook?", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 7 Iss: 2, pp.119 - 139
Keywords:Advertising, Advertising effectiveness, Banner blindness, Eye tracking, Online advertising, Social media, Social network sites
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/JRIM-Mar-2012-0013 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This experiment was conducted at the Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin and the author would like to thank the assistance of the professors Sharon Strover, director of the Digital Media Program, and UT-Austin Portugal Program, and Zenzi Griffin, director of the laboratory in the UT Department of Psychology. Additionally, the author hereby thanks Professor Donald R. Lehmann for his insightful comments, and the volunteers who agreed to participate in this research.

Purpose – The main purpose of this study was to determine whether users of the online social network site, Facebook, actually look at the ads displayed (briefly, to test the existence of the phenomenon known as “banner blindness” in this website), thus ascertaining the effectiveness of paid advertising, and comparing it with the number of friends' recommendations seen.

Design/methodology/approach – In order to achieve this goal, an experiment using eye-tracking technology was administered to a total of 20 participants from a major university in the USA, followed by a questionnaire.

Findings – Findings show that online ads attract less attention levels than friends' recommendations. A possible explanation for this phenomenon may be related to the fact that ads on Facebook are outside of the F-shaped visual pattern range, causing a state of “banner blindness”. Results also show that statistically there is no difference in ads seen and clicked between women and men.

Research limitations/implications – The sample type (undergraduate and graduate students) and the sample size (20 participants) inhibit the generalization of the findings to other populations.

Practical implications – The paper includes implications for the development of an effective online advertising campaign, as well as some proposed conceptualizations of the terms social network site and advertising, which can be used as platforms for discussion or as standards for future definitions.

Originality/value – This study fulfils some identified needs to study advertising effectiveness based on empirical data and to assess banner blindness in other contexts, representative of current internet users' habits.

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