3D Commercials, Different Dynamics

Eye-tracking heat map - 3D vs 2D

3D entertainment has finally gone mainstream. Although three dimensional movies have existed for decades, they were largely gimmicky and had significant viewing problems. Now, James Cameron’s Avatar brought 3D to the big screen in a way that amazed audiences and convinced studio execs that the world was ready for 3D movies. Building on the Avatar buzz, 3D television sets were big news at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. With a surge in 3D entertainment, we can expect an onslaught of 3D advertisements to accompany the programming. Advertisers who start producing 3D commercials can’t assume that all they need to do is change out a standard camera for a 3D setup – eye tracking data shows that people who view the same scene in 3D vs. 2D look at different things.

The image above shows eye-tracking “heat maps” for the same image viewed in 3D (left) vs. 2D (right). The Finnish and Japanese authors of the study, What do people look at when they watch stereoscopic movies?, found that when viewing 3D movies viewers gaze is less focused. There is more eye movement, and they take in more elements of the scene. For advertisers, the Neuromarketing takeaway is that visual elements that would be ignored as merely part of the background in a 2D commercial might grab the attention of the viewer in 3D.

Presumably some of this change in behavior is driven by the novelty of 3D entertainment, and soon we’ll be so accustomed to 3D content that we again tune out the background almost completely. In the meantime, though, creators of 3D commercials would be well advised to keep distracting elements out of the shots where they want attention to be focused on the actor(s) or product.

(Via James Breeze.)


This post was written by:

— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

Contact the author

Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing Get 100 amazing brain-based marketing strategies! Brainfluence is recommended for any size business, even startups and nonprofits!
Guy KawasakiRead this book to learn even more ways to change people's hearts, minds, and actions.   — Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment and former chief evangelist of Apple
Brainfluence Info


1 response to "3D Commercials, Different Dynamics" — Your Turn


Nathan 13. March 2010 at 9:17 am

Roger, at first glance these findings do not shock me. It seems intuitive to think that the human eye would be more attracted to 3D objects in what the brain would normally expect to be a 2D environment (TV, monitor or movie screen). An interesting control experiment would have been to track subjects’ eye movements during a short play or other live-action presentation to see how the eye follows “real” 3D content. Would there be correlatives?

Otherwise, I’m ill at ease of the prospect of bland 2D objects I’ve placed in the background suddenly getting equal billing with my star once I pop it into 3D. Would require a completely different approach to set design!


Leave a Reply