A photo speaks 1,000 words, and that clearly applies to social media too.

Statistical estimates that people spend 145 minutes a day on social media, but during quarantine, 8 hours of screen like these told a very different story.

Social platforms have evolved over the years to keep the user’s attention on pictures, video and motion graphics. With so much visual stimulation online and on social media today, brands are vying for the attention of consumers. But with attention, comes competition.

You are definitely not the only one thinking about how to get more attention to your visual content. But, how can you create content that stands out from the crowd? 95 million more Instagram posts share everyday?

By science, more precisely the science of attention.

The science of visual attention

Visual attention comes from brain activity, which means it can be studied and analyzed. So what makes something visually interesting and what makes something boring to watch?

For marketing, what content gets engagement, clicks, and conversions and which gets reviewed and ignored? Cognitive demand and clarity hold the clues.

Visual content that has low cognitive demand and high clarity is content that stands out, grabs attention, and drives viewer action.

Cognitive demand refers to how difficult it is for someone to understand an element of visual content. A low Cognitive Demand Score means people can understand your content quickly (and that’s a really good thing!). A high score means that users are spending too much time trying to figure out what is going on in your content.

When visual content has high cognitive demand, the brain either skips ahead or ignores and the viewer continues to scroll, without clicking on the call to action and showing the interest and interaction that can help platforms show. more of your content to that user.

Clarity is calculated based on the visibility of key areas of your content. The key areas are your ad copy, your product, and your call to action. A low clarity score means that key areas are hard to find. A high Clarity Score means people can quickly find the most important parts of your content with ease.

Visual content with high clarity scores gets more attention, engagement, and clicks. Read on to find out how I determined this through my own social experience.

The Attention score, made up of metrics like cognitive demand and clarity scores, can tell you how a piece of content is performing without the need to spend time, money, and resources on campaigns that don’t. do not succeed.

It’s tempting to think that your goal is to have * the * most interesting content online, but that’s probably not the right way to think about it.

In a recent The future of marketing post, TINT shared an important finding from Dentsu’s attention economy report, “rather than aiming for total attention at all costs, the biggest victory for marketers is to avoid total avoidance, where the audience is watching – or walking away -“.

Getting attention is the first step in moving to the next phase of the customer journey: decision making.

The Human Brain and the Effects of Visual Attention on Decision Making – Experiment

When it comes to making decisions, the attention isn’t so black and white, as researchers at Ohio State University have discovered.

A study by Microsoft indicates that humans now have the attention span of a goldfish, which means marketers only have 8 seconds to grab the visual attention of their prospect (human) so that they ‘they can quickly make a decision. But where does that leave companies using strong visuals in their branding? I conducted an experiment on my personal social media to measure the effects of focus points in branded material to see how users make a decision when purchasing products. To conduct the experiment, I used similar but subtly different images of wine bottles (pictured below) in a survey asking “Which bottle would you buy?” To my Instagram followers on a 24 hour Instagram story.

Of the 70 viewers in my story, 38% said the bottle of wine on the left is something they would buy. Obviously, the brand image is much more simplistic with little copy on the product labeling. While 62% said they would buy the right bottle, clearly showing more text and a centered logo.

When I compared the two images above using TINT Attention Score, a one-of-a-kind feature that scans content to visualize key focus points to optimize the content for greater visibility, I noticed the images were running at different levels in Cognitive and clarity scores.

As we can see from the scanned images, the right image (which was chosen the most by my Instagram followers) has a slightly higher concentration of Cognitive Demand Score and Clarity, which means branding bottle is easy. to be processed for a human brain. of seconds and is the most visually appealing across the two bottles. Whereas the image on the left has a higher concentration of attention directly towards the middle of the bottle. Making it less likely to be noticed by the human eye when browsing wine selections in store or online. We can conclude with this experience that such a small change in branding can make all the difference in setting the tone for your marketing. Attention score can significantly help predict how your image, or in this case, the brand of the product will perform with a potential audience.

Maximize the attention potential of your visual content

Based on the results of my experience, there are a few important tips to keep in mind on how to get more eyes on your content.

Use faces in your content

Pattern recognition is an important part of the brain, helping us find answers based on past experiences. If you’ve ever seen what a snake looks like, you don’t need to stare at a rattlesnake while you find out how it makes that noise. Your brain has already sounded the alarm to move away, quickly, thanks to pattern recognition.

People evolved to look for faces and watch what * those * faces are looking at. This human perception helped us know if someone was heading our way, potentially a threat in the African savannah tens of thousands of years ago, or if someone was heading east, never knowing that we even spotted it.

By using human faces, your content immediately grabs the attention of your audience. In this example, a heat map (generated by tracking eye movements) shows us how users are most drawn to the face and center of the body of the person in the photo, and not at all to the shoes they are wearing. it carries or where it is heading.

Keep visual content clean

Brains absorb a huge amount of data with just one social media scroll. Your content doesn’t have time to have high cognitive demand because there is too much going on in your ad creation. Focus on your main message and use text, images, or both to present your point of view to draw selective attention to your product and call for action.

If your content has too much content, it will increase your cognitive demand and decrease your clarity score. People won’t be able to figure out what’s going on fast enough and they’ll just keep scrolling. Low cognitive demand content is clean, showing only what * needs * to be there. This increases the clarity score because users can easily understand what’s going on, if they care about it, and if they want to know more.

For example, in this heat map, TINT Attention Score revealed that users are able to go from the product, from the shoe, to the call to action, where their gaze stays as long as possible. See how clean this ad is? The time spent on the call to action is that decision-making moment, which tells us the message was clear enough for ideal customers to understand.

Focus on the Fovea of ​​your image or video

The fovea is the sharper part of an image that attracts spatial attention. This is usually in the front and in the center, where our eyes are naturally drawn. When you take a portrait photo on a smartphone, you see the fovea, associated with the blurred background. The fovea is where our gaze is naturally drawn, which means that products must be placed there strategically.

Espolón Tequila strategically places its tequila bottle in the fovea of ​​the image below, making it the highlight of the content’s visual field. Do you see how eye tracking software finds out that the stimulus of people’s attention is focused on that part of the image more than the less relevant stimuli in the background? Better yet, people are looking directly at the label of this tequila bottle. Even if a user does not purchase this Espolón from the ad, they now know the brand, which gives Espolón a greater chance to convert to a store down the line.

Let’s also take a look at the second most viewed part of this photo, the female face in the background. Don’t overestimate the importance of faces in your content, because even a face on a blurry background is still intriguing to the human eye.

Where should visual content live?

Visual content has a lot of focus, and it’s not just online. Social media, paid ads, and websites are digital hotbeds for your brand-created and user-generated content, just like in-person screens.

Purdue University uses social media to share what “life at Purdue“is like. Notice how their mascot is in the fovea of ​​this photo – and the cheerleaders are in the blurry background? Your eyes immediately turn to their mascot (and the cheerleader’s face just after).

Ecommerce brands add galleries of user-generated content to their product pages to increase conversions.

Visual content can live digitally or in person, but the science behind what creates the decision-making remains the same, regardless of the medium.

Visual attention is a science

Get visual attention to your content is a science, supported by the present study and the functioning of the human brain. Using what we know to be true about how the brain has evolved to absorb information, brands can organize visual content that works alongside these mechanisms.

Three important points to remember:

  • Use faces in your content
  • Keep your advertising minimal and clean
  • Put your brand at the heart of your image

These are the scientific mechanisms that can attract more attention to your brand. Coupled with A / B testing and proven content strategies, your visual content can drive more engagement and conversions on ads and campaigns.

Schedule a free demo of TINT to see how our attention scoring technology will help you determine if your content is visually appealing before you press publish.

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