The Market-ability of a Poster Ad

The promising glance of a masked lady conjures up pictures of magical Venetian nights. In the summer of 2015 the colourful poster ad enticed visitors to watch the operetta „ A night in Venice“ at the lakeside stage in Mörbisch. How do marketing managers select the ‚best’ poster ad from the variety of propositions agencies provide? Project manager Claudia Kummer from the UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES Burgenland’s Department Economics invites you to take a look backstage.


the new poster of the Seefestspiele
Eye tracker of the University of Applied Sciences
Screenshot eye-camera
Research methods
Points of focus of 49 persons in 4 seconds
The view history of selected zones
Scan path of a typical view history

Interview with UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES-market researcher Claudia Kummer

Ms. Kummer, what is the connection between UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES Burgenland and the lakeside operetta?

The association Seefestspiele Mörbisch wanted to modernize their marketing presence and gain self-confidence while still appealing to long-time regulars. There were two poster ad designs: a traditional one and a more daring one. The question was: which design is going to market the piece better? Our marketing department at UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES Burgenland, Department Economics, researched the answer by applying scientific methods.

What does a poster ad have to do, to convince festival visitors?

Firstly, it has to attract attention. Picture this: I am driving along a street. There is a poster ad on the side of the street and I notice it in the corner of my eye. Do I take a closer look? Secondly, I have to grasp the message. What it is all about? The poster ad has a maximum of 2 seconds to explain these facts to me, before I passed it up. Thirdly, the emotional side has to be in tune. Do I like it? Does it appeal to me on an emotional level? These three aspects must be considered if a poster ad wants to stand out in our saturated market.

How did you research these questions?

Research in marketing impact is complex. We have decided on a combination of two methods: a quantitative online query of 242 typical festival visitors and an eye tracking study with 49 students at the UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES Burgenland. Eye tracking allows recording the eye movement by means of infrared rays and highly precise cameras. Analysing the duration and sequence of looks allows drawing conclusions

Does Eye Tracking give you insights into the hearts and minds of customers?

Yes and no. On the positive: the looks are spontaneous and uncensored. If 49 percent of the test persons first look at the lady’s eye and then glance over to the competitor’s poster ad, I know that I was able to get their attention. The problem remains: the reason why I get this attention can be positive or negative. This is why we added interviews that allowed us to find out about the motivation behind the looks. Only now were we able to conclude that there were positive feelings involved.

So, you scored in terms of attention and emotions. How did the message come across?

This was extremely thrilling. We know from marketing research that very attractive or erotic images hold certain dangers for advertising because they divert attention from the actual product, thus hamper the message. We were wary of this so-called ‚vampire-effect’. The decisive hint came through the eye tracker: although the lady’s eye attracted test subject’s attention first, it only held it for a few fractions of a second.

What happened then?

The looks digressed and clearly focused within the first second to the operetta’s title „ A night in Venice“, thus, to the actual product. This showed that the message was perceived within the first two seconds.

Luckily, no ‚vampire effect’. How can you explain the good test results?

The poster ad with the lady had several design-related advantages over the competitor’s design. The title is placed in the centre with a sunset in the background, another natural eye catcher. Strong contrasting colours – black on yellow – makes the text easy to grasp. A good effect were the dates, framed in circles and on a white background. They were clearly in focus as of the fifth second.

Were there any contentious points regarding the poster ad?

The logo of the association Seefestspiele Mörbisch attracted attention about a second earlier on the traditional design. Since the logo features a lot of text it forms a competition to the operetta’s title. We also recognized that the footer with the contact details hardly got any attention. One could economize information here.

What would recommend advertising agencies to do based on your research?

The old saying ‚ less is more’ found yet another confirmation. Also, one has to create a clear visual hierarchy, so the look can be controlled. Courage often pays off, but change also holds risks. Thanks to the eye tracking study and the online query we were able to test the customer’s reactions beforehand. This supported Seefestspiele Mörbisch in their path to a new, powerful advertising campaign and it allowed us to pass on this experience to students.

Read more


Kummer, Claudia & Bäck, Evelyn (2014): Aufmerksame Blicke für die „Nacht in Venedig“. Mit Eye Tracking zur neuen Werbelinie, in: planung & analyse, Heft 6/2014, S.16-21

Kummer, Claudia & Semmler-Matosic, Tonka (2015): Eye Tracking für die Werbesujets der Seefestspiele Mörbisch – welches Design gewinnt Aufmerksamkeit? In: Proceedings zum Forschungsforum der österr. Fachhochschulen 2015, Hagenberg.

Kummer, Claudia (2015): Werbewirkungsforschung mittels Eye Tracking – die „Nacht in Venedig“ in Mörbisch, in: Hauptfeld-Göllner, Petra, Mayrhofer, Walter & Pehm, Georg (Hrsg.): Meinung im Mittelpunkt. Ausgewählte Beiträge zu Ergebnissen der Markt- und Meinungsforschung im Burgenland. Reihe Science Research Pannonia, Band 6, S. 31-44.

Project team and project manager

Project manager

Print site Print site