Shoppers are more likely to click on ads with curvy designs - study

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

New study explains how consumers subconsciously prefer digital ad designs that are soft-edged and curvy.

As you shop online, you may be drawn to digital ads with curvy designs without even realising it.


According to a new study from the University of South Florida in the US, consumers click on curvy call-to-action buttons, such as ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Add to Cart’, at a significantly higher rate than those with sharp angles.


“It’s actually rooted in natural and evolutionary instincts,” says principal investigator Dipayan Biswas, a professor of marketing at the university.


“According to research from different disciplines, our natural instincts send us signals that sharp angles usually denote danger and that we’re more likely to get hurt. In contrast, curvy designs are perceived as friendlier and more approachable.”


Biswas says this feeling leads people engaged in online shopping to subconsciously prefer things, including digital ad designs, that are soft-edged and curvy.


His study is titled ‘Curvy Digital Marketing Designs: Virtual Elements with Rounded Shapes Enhance Online Click-Through Rates’ and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Research.

Photo Credit: Cottonbro Studio. Pexels


Shapes of virtual elements influence click-through rates


Biswas tested this concept through click rates and eye movement studies in a customer experience lab. The findings reveal how the shapes of virtual elements can subconsciously influence click-through rates. 


“We studied a hotel search button and we consistently found the click rate was higher when the elements were curved,” Biswas states. “It translated to an increase of nearly 15% in total revenue.” 


According to Biswas, this means companies can potentially manipulate consumers into clicking, and subsequently spending more, through the use of curved call-to-action buttons. For companies that put little thought or reasoning behind their design element choices, the study could be eye opening for them. 


“This information is a very powerful tool in the hands of companies if they can influence your behaviour without you realising it,” he observes. 


For online shoppers, this means when you’re browsing the web, you become most susceptible to subliminal tactics, such as design elements, which can lead to more unplanned purchases.  


Biswas encourages online shoppers to set a budget to offset such digital influence. “Having a budget will give you a benchmark to keep things more conscious-oriented and you’re less likely to be influenced by variables like these,” he advises. 


Biswas plans to continue researching digital ads and examine additional elements that he believes can also impact click rates and user engagement. 


You can find out more about the study here.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.