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Does the distance from an advert affect its impact?


Read distances. Mention this in a room full of digital signage marketers and watch the carnage unfold.


For such an important aspect that could influence the effectiveness of an ad campaign, it is surprising that there is no industry standard, and the guidelines that are currently out there don’t seem to have much science behind them.


With further research into reading distances, we have discovered an excellent paper written for the Journal of Consumer Psychology by Jia, Y., Huang, Y., Wyer, R. S., Jr., & Shen, H.



It investigates whether physical proximity to an adverts message affects the absorption by consumers and their belief in what the advert is putting across. They did this through multiple experiments, testing verbal messages and written messages at different distances from the participant, and analysed the effect this had on the impact of the message. All six experiments produced results concurrent with each other, suggesting that being closer in physical proximity to an adverts message, whether it be a vocal or written message, results in increased mental imagery of what is being advertised. This increase in vivid imagery leads to an increase in the belief of the message, therefore positively affecting attitudes towards the product or service.


From a digital signage point of view, it is useful information to know that keeping advertisement messages close to people would increase the likelihood of them creating vivid imagery, leading to higher beliefs in the ad, higher product or service evaluations, and the acceptance of the appeal.