News / News Releases


Jun 21, 2011


Eye-Tracking Neuro-Marketing Study Focuses on Dodge, Verizon, and Zappos
IAB Portrait Ad Unit Effectiveness

CANNES, FRANCE – June 21, 2011 – AOL, Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and the IPG Media Lab today announced, at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the results of a new study on the effectiveness and earned attention of IAB Portrait ad units versus traditional display advertising. The initial results support the hypothesis that the newly approved IAB Portrait represents an evolution of digital branding in terms of engagement, attention, emotional connection and influence. The six week long study focused on how display advertising impacts consumers in a digital world that is inundated with marketing messages. The new approach to display advertising, represented in the IAB Portrait ad unit, delivered an entirely new stage of impact at every level of the purchase funnel vs. standard ad units.
"While our internal data proved what we knew to be true, that a larger more interactive, integrated, and visually beautiful ad would be more engaging for consumers, this research data is off the charts," said Jeff Levick, President, AOL Advertising. "These results prove that the ad unit is probably the most effective brand ad units on the Web. All measures of interactivity, visual attention, emotive response and overall ad effective metrics increased when consumers viewed the IAB Portrait, creating an emotional connection between brands and their consumers."
The AOL/IPG study used groundbreaking analytical tools including eye-tracking to measure the visual interaction with the advertising, facial expression analysis to record micro-expressions as a determinate of engagement, and bio-metric bracelets to collect data on skin temperature and conductance, measuring the levels of user excitement when presented with creative messaging. The first of its kind to combine facial coding, bio-metric feedback, then use eye tracking to sync that data with the exact point on a screen where the eye was fixated, the study then validated these new forms of engagement tracking with traditional engagement metrics from a live media campaign and a Brand Survey through Dynamic Logic. The study focused on the display advertising effectiveness and brand messaging of three IPG clients from very different industries: Dodge, Verizon, and Zappos.
"Everyday users are exposed to exponentially more marketing messages than were our parents. The question is how to stand out and create an engaging, interactive brand experience that cuts through the noise and connects with consumers," said Brian Monahan, EVP, Managing Partner, IPG Media Lab. "This is the most rigorous analysis per pixel ever brought to bear on an online ad. The research shows that current metrics don't capture the effectiveness of new formats like IAB Portrait. New industry standards are necessary to better measure branding campaign success."
The findings show IAB Portrait strongly outperforms other options in the marketplace (300x250 & 300x600) in both Quantitative and Qualitative metrics. It also shows that these new metrics (eye tracking & bio-metrics) will inform the creation of better user experiences, better creative, and much higher rates of connection and purchase intent with the audience.
As expected, compared to a standard 300x250 unit, IAB Portrait is far superior. The ad unit attracts attention 2x faster and viewers looked at it 4x more often and 4x longer.
However, size is far from the whole story. When a 300x600 unit was also included in the testing, the Portrait ad still far exceeded performance:
  • Portrait units attract attention 35 percent faster than competing units, 81 percent more attention, and 95 percent more time in length of fixation
  • Live media metrics showed interaction rates rose between 4.5x – 7x
  • Influence rose dramatically:
  • Users that indicated they would recommend the brand or product to Friends/Family rose 46 percent
  • Users that indicated they would visit the Brand site/Facebook Fan page increased 49 percent
  • Purchase intent rose 263 percent
  • Facial recognition analysis shows Portrait lowers negative emotions by almost 40 percent , with less frustration, and fewer frowns
  • Proper Context drives fixation – relevant content drove users to view Portrait unit 35 percent faster and 30 percent longer
In addition, the findings also showed that part of the success of the IAB Portrait unit is simply its ability to cut through "banner blindness" – where users simply don't see the ads on the page. The eye tracking portion of the study showed this rather explicitly – where eye fixation on IAB Portrait ads rivaled the content itself.
Clients involved with the study were pleased with the outcome and are excited to be partnering on moving the industry ahead.
"At Chrysler Group we consistently look at how we can engage our consumers in a unique and interesting manner which can be a challenge in the digital space where the customer is flooded with information," said Susan Thomson, Head of Media, Chrysler Group LLC. "The information gathered from the AOL/IPG study enables our media team to better understand how we can interact with our consumers in ways that captures their attention quickly and provides them with the key information they want on our products."
"We were impressed with how insightful the results of the AOL/IPG study were and while we have always known that not all ads are created equal, this study arms us with the information we need to create more effective branding ads in the future," explains Michelle Thomas, Senior Brand Marketing Manager, "This particular ad unit allows us to tell a story as well as create an opportunity for customers to engage with our brand the way that they want to engage {video, social, product information}. Even better, we are gaining consumer insights into what messages are resonating so that our messaging remains viable versus extinct."
Of course creative plays a major role in the ultimate success of the ad unit, and the flexibility of the unit enables clients to achieve multiples goals.
"In the digital age, it's no longer just about the 'big idea,' but rather how you can create more meaningful and immersive brand experiences with customers that drive actual business results," said Alejandro Mendoza, associate creative director at SapientNitro. "It's exciting to have more compelling ways to tell brand stories online, and with the multi-faceted IAB Portrait ad unit we have not only a larger canvas to draw attention to unique product attributes and brand messages, but also a way to do so in a more dynamic and engaging context to drive stronger brand connections." Mendoza was one of the creatives that worked on the IAB Portrait ad unit for Dodge for this research study.
"IAB Portrait provides a superior canvas to capture attention and elicit brand building interaction than standard units," said Tim McAtee, Research Director, IPG Media Lab. "However, it is up to the advertiser to build an execution that gets the most from the real estate."

For the full results visit

About the IPG Media Lab
At the center of Interpublic Group's Mediabrands network, the IPG Media Lab helps clients and agencies put innovation into action. By creating opportunities for marketers to identify, formulate and test new approaches, the Lab mitigates risk through a process outside the normal campaign methodology. Employing creative thinking and a suite of proprietary research tools to understand how emerging media impacts purchase decisions, the Lab provides hands-on guidance, digital media insight and measurable results to clients. Our product framework is built around three fundamental pillars: Diagnosing Opportunity, Prioritization and Deployment.
About AOL
AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is a premier global media company with a suite of brands and products serving consumers, advertisers and publishers worldwide. The AOL Huffington Post Media Group is a leading source of news, opinion, entertainment, community and digital information comprised of a wide range of destination websites, including, The Huffington Post,TechCrunch, Moviefone, Engadget, Patch, AOL Music, StyleList and MapQuest. The AOL Group includes, ADTECH, Pictela, Video, inclusive of AOL Video, goviral and 5min Media, Content Solutions and Sponsored Listings and serves a combined content and advertising market at scale through video, brand advertising, content and ad serving. AOL is focused on engaging consumers and providing online advertising services and solutions on both AOL Huffington Post Media Group destination websites and third party websites, in addition to serving consumer platforms including AOL Mail, AIM,, and mobile experiences. AOL also operates one of the largest Internet subscription access services in the United States, which serves as another distribution channel for its consumer offerings.
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