Purpose: Little research has been done to understand how individual elements (e.g. advertisements) within a webpage are processed and evaluated when visual complexity is increased. Thus, this study aimed to investigate how consumers allocate attention and evaluate products and advertisements on complex webpages when they are casually browsing. Design/methodology/approach: This study conducted two experiments to test the causal effects of different degrees of visual complexity on consumer responses to products and advertisements. An eye-tracking experiment (n = 90) and a follow-up online experiment (n = 121) were conducted using undergraduate students as participants. Findings: Participants formed a global impression from the overall webpage complexity, which spilled over to evaluation of individual elements on the webpage (e.g. product, advertisement). The inverted U-shaped relationships (vs. linear negative relationships) between webpage visual complexity and attitude toward the webpage, products, and advertisements were observed. The focal product was given a consistent level of attention regardless of the complexity level. Practical implications: This study provides implications for website organization and design to maximize positive consumer experiences and marketing effectiveness. The findings provide implications for retailers and advertisement buyers. Originality/value: This study expanded the knowledge by examining the interplay between individual elements of webpages and the whole webpage complexity when consumers browse visually complex webpages. It is a novel finding that the overall webpage complexity effect spills over to locally attended products or advertisements.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.
- Banner ads
- Online advertising
- Online consumer behavior
- Online retailing
- Visual merchandising