Happy Shoppers Engaged with Brands in the Mall Environment

Friday, 30 July 2010 13:24 Pavel Beneš


London, UK - Kinetic Worldwide has partnered with Clear Channel Outdoor UK to undertake pioneering face-tracking research into consumer moods and engagement with digital out-of-home in the mall environment. The study reveals new insights into footfall and contacts, optimum animation levels of digital advertising and expression mood ratings.

 This research aimed to provide a greater understanding of consumer behaviour and interaction with out-of-home media while providing more accountability for advertisers seeking to engage with the 19m* UK adults who claim to have seen mall advertising in the last week.


Cutting-edge face-tracking technology from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute - inventors of the revolutionary MP3 audio format – was employed to track eye and face contact with advertising displayed at Westfield Royal Victoria Place shopping mall, Tunbridge Wells.

The HD camera, placed on a Clear Channel digital advertising unit, measured contact over a three week period providing data on: contact numbers and duration; age and gender and mood expression (happy, sad, impassive and alert). The research also featured a separate footfall measure of shoppers and face-to-face interviews.

The first notable finding was that ad contacts were correlated to footfall, indicating there was a general predisposition to see the panel. In particular, people’s relaxed mindset at the weekend led them to give more attention to advertising through longer contact duration. However, even during the week average contact duration was well above the Postar definition of conscious engagement – a quarter second or above. Overall, one million seconds of ad exposure were recorded per week.

The face-tracking camera also revealed that shoppers were three times as likely to be happy than sad in a mall environment. Younger audiences were also found to look at the advertising for longer, while older audiences were more expressive. Perhaps unsurprisingly, women were found to be happier than men in malls, but men were more engaged by animated campaigns. Men were also more engaged on a Monday and Saturday, while women were most engaged on a Thursday.

The study also provided insights into the performance of digital out-of-home campaigns carrying static or moving content. While animation and scrolling copy worked better than static copy, the degree of animation was crucial to attracting attention. Use of full video or over-elaborate animation had very little additional impact. There were also interesting findings related to colour and use of text, which reinforce traditional learnings over the best creative use of out-of-home.

When interviewed, shoppers were overwhelmingly positive about the mall experience. Statements included “it’s an enjoyable place to spend time” and “it’s a good idea to have advertising so close to the shops”. They also thought that digital outdoor was “innovative” and showed “advertisers as dynamic brands”.

Nick Mawditt, Global Director of Insight and Marketing at Kinetic Worldwide, commented: “The research demonstrates the strong level of consumer engagement for digital out-of-home in malls and tells us what types of ads work best and at what times. The mood data is a real bonus and those advertisers clever enough to target by the mood and mindset of the consumer can really benefit.”

Pip Hainsworth, Marketing Director at Clear Channel Outdoor UK, said: “Advertisers in the mall environment not only benefit from their proximity to the point of purchase but also from the general happiness of consumers, and their predisposed receptiveness to commercial messages. This research provides proof, not only that digital out-of-home works in attracting attention, but also in keeping consumers engaged.”

Five essential takeouts from the research

1. Shoppers are generally happy in the mall environment

2. Younger audiences look for longer, while older audiences are more expressive

3. Engagement duration triples at the weekend, while quieter periods evoke the best mood scores

4. Women are happier than men in malls, while men are more engaged by animated campaigns

5. Animation is more impactful than full video, scrolling copy works better than static

*Source: TGI

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