What do people see when they look at ads?

Not necessarily what they’re supposed to, as this very cool experiment seems to suggest. Thanks to The New Shelton Wet/Dry blog for finding this fascinating (appalling?) piece of research.

In a rigorous controlled study 52% of the people who were asked to look at this picture could not recall the woman falling to her death.

For every creative who ever fought tooth and nail to keep the composition of his ad just so—which is to say, all of us—this is sobering stuff.

Take these pretty nice lingerie ads, courtesy of AdGoodness, for example. Here’s one, if you’re too lazy to click:

It’s all about controlling the viewer’s eye and directing it to a particular, uh, place.

But what if the headline has it all wrong? What if the viewer remembers only the Tyrannosaurus? Or only the zebra rug?

And we’re arguing about the placement of the logo?

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