obamas-heat-map

Heat Map Study Shows Politics Influences Ad Focus

  |  October 24, 2012   |  Comments

Cognitive Match released a study of political ads showing sharp differences in the way younger left- and right-leaning voters looked at the content.

Today Cognitive Match released a study of political ads showing sharp differences in the way younger left- and right-leaning voters looked at the content.

The study found that right-leaning voters tended to focus much more on their candidate's photo, while left-leaners were more attracted to Michelle Obama than to Barack.

When presented with similar Democrat ads featuring a large image of either President Obama or the First Lady, the left-leaning voters gravitated to her face 24 percent more than they did to his.

obamas-heat-map

                                                          Left-leaning voters aged 22 to 33.

Meanwhile, right-leaning males ignored the content of Romney ads and focused mostly on his face.

romney-heat-maps

                                                 (Left) Right-leaning males (Right) Left-leaning males

The focus of right-leaning males rested on Romney's face five times more often than did that of the rest of the study's participants. Moreover, 90 percent of the right-leaning males did not demonstrate interest in the copy and message of Obama ads.

The study evaluated the way online display ads were consumed by young, single, working professionals aged 22 to 33. Cognitive Match selected this group because it was strategic to President Obama's first-term election, in which he captured 66 percent of their votes, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The study monitored participants' focus as they viewed online display ads and then averaged the results to create a cumulative heat map. All participants were shown ads from both Republicans and Democrats.

"Consistently, all of the right-leaning male participants spent a lot of time looking at Mitt Romney's face, while the left-leaning males and females did not spend as much time on the faces," said Jacob Ajwani, vice president of strategic accounts at Cognitive Match.

Cognitive Match, which provides dynamic content optimization services to clients including The Guardian, Financial Times, Steve Madden, and Net-A-Porter, combines psychology with machine learning to improve ad performance.

The study also found that females of both persuasions were 14 percent more likely than males to concentrate on the words "banning all abortions." Regardless of inclination, the men's focus gravitated toward information about the monetary impact of tax increases at twice the rate of the women's.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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