Best of Web: Attention-The Gorilla in the Room

By Angie Johnston  |  December 7, 2017

James Russo & Dan Schiffman | | November 30, 2017

In 1999, researchers Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris uncovered some astounding insights in how people perceive the world around them.

Their “Invisible Gorilla” experiment asked people to focus on a video of other people passing basketballs to one another and count the number of hand-offs. Halfway through the video, someone dressed in a gorilla suit walks in and out of the scene thumping its chest around. When asked if anything unusual or if someone in a gorilla suit appeared in the video, about half of the test subjects said they missed the whole thing.

How could that possibly be?

Ultimately, this experiment indicated the saliency of an important point: Looking is not the same as seeing. Simply reaching someone’s field of view is not the same as being perceived, understood and considered.
Advertising could learn a thing or two from this lab experience. Consumers have always had the ability to be distracted by advertising, but the proliferation of technology has created infinitely more opportunities for that to happen. And, amidst our unending chase for mass reach, it must be acknowledged that we haven’t effectively, and in a scalable way, incorporated attention within how we conduct business, specifically how we plan, sell, buy and evaluate the impact of video advertising.

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