Quantitative analysis of processing capacity in visual search: Examining the impact of visual salience, involvement, and prior knowledge on selective attention to printed advertisements and memory formation
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Despite the long tradition of examining individual factors and aspects of print ad design and execution, the attention allocation process to different ad execution elements has not been specified. This study reconceptualized and examined potential moderators - namely visual salience, involvement, and prior knowledge – in terms of cognitive load to predict their real-time combined impact on attention and subsequent processing of magazine advertisements. Eye-tracking data indicated automatic bottom-up attention precedes controlled top-down processing when attending to magazine advertisements. Additionally, results revealed that involvement moderated the impact of visual salience on selective attention to ad execution elements, such that insufficient resource allocation to ads for low involvement products inhibited consumers’ attention to visually non-salient ad elements compared to ads for high involvement products, as indexed by gaze duration. The findings suggested selective attention is not unitarily driven by message properties or individual factors, and both message and individual level factors should be considered to creative effective print advertisements.