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WM Interview with Yahoo's Lauren Weinberg

Posted on 7.14.2011

Website Magazine (WM): Why engage in research of this nature (biometrics, etc.)? How is it fundamental to brand advertisers’ success with new display formats like Yahoo’s Login Takeover format?

Lauren Wieinberg (LW) : Biometric provides non-conscious reactions to advertising stimulus which is a useful technique when trying to uncover best practices around online advertising formats. Advertising works primarily on a non-conscious level and consumers are often unable to explain why they like or don’t like specific advertising. By looking at their biometric measures, we’re able to see when consumers are emotionally engaged, when they’re processing information, where they’re looking and for how long. For the Login Takeover ad, we were able to decipher from ad effectiveness measures which ads were working well, but the biometric data helped us deeply understand why the ads were effective so we could provide brand advertisers with a set of basic principles they could use when designing their creative, To get to that level of detail we needed to go beyond what consumers can tell us and look at how they were reacting on a non-conscious level.

WM: Prioritize the best practices identified in the research report for Website Magazine readers – which should advertisers focus on first if the aim is performance rather than engagement?

If the aim is to drive performance, advertisers should focus on giving consumers an emotional reason to take action right then and there. Generic call to actions like “click here for info” or “find out more” without a compelling reason to act didn’t resonate emotionally with consumers or produce the desired direct response behavior. Ads where the call to action was in close proximity to a compelling reason to act, such as a low price point or a promise to receive an immediate response, generated both an emotional response in consumers and a high level of direct response.

WM: What was the most surprising finding from the study for Yahoo! and have there been any modifications to strategy or technology at Yahoo! as a result of the research?

LW: Although some of our findings were in line with conventional design wisdom, we had a number of recommendations which defied common practices. These were surprising to us as they were unexpected. It’s fascinating to see how minor nuances in design like different background colors, use of facial images or left versus right justified text can impact consumers’ response to advertising. At Yahoo!, we use the same advertising platforms for our advertisers as we do for our own brand. We’ll use these best practices when we’re designing ads to make sure we’re using the Login Takeover ad more effectively for Yahoo’s messaging.

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