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Effects of Pre-Exposure to Advertising on In-Store Behavior

By Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy

What is the effect of prior exposure to advertising on in-store behavior? How does it impact activity and responses at the fixture? What underlies any changes in choice?

Mobile eye-tracking and EEG was used to assess customers’ visual attention, emotional engagement, and motivation after exposure to 15 sec / 30-sec ads for paint. We also correlated results with self-report feedback from respondents having completed the EEG and eye-tracking study.


By showing ads prior to the in-store tasks, we found that both 15- and 30-seconds ads had a significant effect on actual in-store choice. When choosing paint, prior exposure to a paint ad ramped up the sales from 78% to 91% and 100% for the 15-seconds and 30-seconds ad, respectively (see figure below).

Interestingly, a careful step-wise debriefing interview after the in-store trial showed that customers were unaware that they had been exposed to the ad. Even when they were shown the ad again, they denied that it would in fact have any effect on their choice.

Here, we make two core observations:

  • Despite the self-reports, customers who were exposed to the paint ad spent significantly more time exploring the shelves than those who had not been exposed to the ad (see the eye-tracking results of the control group left, compared to the test group on the right)
  • The ad effect was associated with a significantly higher motivation score, as assessed by the asymmetric engagement of the frontal parts of the brain

Taken together, these findings demonstrate that ads can indeed have an effect on in-store behavior, and that the actual persuasion process can only be assessed through applied neuroscience, not from self reports. This also hints at the possibility of testing other kinds of communication prior to store visits, including tabs, outdoor banners and store entrances. With this publication, we now have protocols for addressing exactly these challenges.

This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook. Order your copy today