‘The effects of using English in online advertising’ - an eye tracking study into the effects of the use of English in Dutch online product advertisement banners.

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As online advertisers are competing for the limited attention of their audience, online advertisements need to attract as much attention as possible and need to create positive attitudes toward the advertised product and brand. It has been suggested that the use of foreign language can improve the overall effectiveness of advertisements. As the English language occurs frequently in non-English advertising, this study investigated the effect of English in Dutch online advertising with regard to several aspects: the effectiveness of drawing attention, the attitude toward product, brand and advertisement, the purchase intention, the recall of product, brand name and advertising slogan and the appreciation for the language used. An experimental eye tracking study with a mixed design was carried out among 60 participants, who each saw six webpages that contained one banner advertisement and information on a job vacancy. The banner advertisement contained either Dutch or English slogans. The participants were instructed to look for specific information about the job vacancies. This goal-directed task was given in order to produce looking behaviour that would closely match real-life looking behaviour of browsing Internet users. An eye tracker registered the looking behaviour of participants and a questionnaire was used to measure attitudes, recall and appreciation. The results imply that the effectiveness of English advertisements does not differ from that of Dutch advertisements. Even though the participants reported to appreciate English advertisements more than Dutch advertisements, an actual effect was lacking. Strikingly, almost no attention was paid to the banner advertisements at all. The findings of this study can be practically relevant for online advertisers, as they imply that the effect of English does not differ from the effect of Dutch with regard to attracting attention and that the use of English does not cause more negative or positive attitudes. Advertisers can consider these findings when using English in non-English advertising in order to standardize their international marketing strategies and to lower translation costs. Further research could focus on the discrepancy between the perceived preference of nglish advertising and the lack of actual effects on attitude. The questions raised in this study about the effectiveness of online banner advertisements could be answered in further research. Finally, additional insights into the field could be yielded by investigating the effect of different foreign languages on online advertising.
Faculteit der Letteren