Human Faces have been used in every means of advertisement for the past centuries. Without a doubt, human faces in advertisements attract our attention before anything else, and it increases when it is a well-known face, such as a celebrity.
Faces are the most important visual stimuli we perceive, and the brain can identify a known face within a fraction of a second. Research studies suggest the brain has a separate area, called Fusiform Face Area (FFA), to recognize faces above all other objects. Fusiform regions respond more strongly to faces than to letter strings and textures (Puce et al. 1996), flowers (McCarthy et al. 1997a), and other stimuli, including mixed everyday objects, houses, and hands (Kanwisher et al. 1997).
In a website/advertisement, human faces grab the attention of visitors above anything else, like in the real life, so marketers need to utilize this human behavior wisely to maximize the desired outcome.
Eye Movement for mango.com
Human Faces for Brand Recognition
If you need to improve brand recognition, the human face is the best tool to use. The human brain can identify the brand ambassador (or model) and link it to the brand, even before recognizing the logo. If a human face is used consistently in advertisement with the brand, it can transfer it to the long-term memory of your audience, which is important to capitalize every cent you spend for advertising.
Real Life Case: Kelly Felder is a famous fashion brand in Sri Lanka, and people can recognize the model before anything else. When people surf Facebook, they will come across a few dozen images, brands, and videos, so the image of the model plays a vital role in getting the attention and triggering the emotion.
Kelly Felder Facebook Image
Human Faces as a Friction
Sometimes, the human face on a website may act as a friction to the visitor, as they scan faces before anything else. Because of this behavior, visitors’ cognitive load (the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory) may increase, and they leave the website, without completing the desired outcome. User attention is a precious resource and should be allocated accordingly.
Hubspot ran a test with human face to improve their lead conversion rate but it didn’t. Probably it occurred due to the increase of cognitive load.
Human Faces as a Slider
Sometimes, human faces on a website may act positively and increase conversion rate. We had the same experience with our tech support brand.
24/7 Techies Website
ReapDigital Fact: We did several tests with our tech support brand website to understand the influence of a human image for our customers. Multiple tests were conducted with male, female, young, and old human images, but all the variation won against a landing page, which had no human image. Based on multiple tests and data analysis effort, we could come to the following conclusion.
In the tech support industry, people fear being scammed. So, their conscious mind (conscious mind is your thinking mind or the logical part) actively participates in rationalizing the services. If the conscious mind is unable to rationalize our service as a legitimate business, they leave the website without taking further action. The conscious mind requires a lot more effort and evidence, so it can be easily overloaded. By having a human face on the website, initial attention goes to the human face, reducing the effectiveness of the conscious mind, while the subconscious mind (Participates in emotional decisions) comes into play. Also, human faces can have a close relationship with visitors’ subconscious mind and motivate him to take the decision, based on emotions, which is immediately to get support to fix their computer.
Bart Schutz (Psychologist) mentioned that “wish list” on an eCommerce site may not have a real value to the customer, but it may reduce the participation of the conscious mind thus increase the conversion rates.
@Jtrondeau presented the below AB test case study. Variation with the social share buttons won with a 5.7% improvement. Someone can think that large social buttons may act as a friction, but in this case, those buttons may reduce the participation of the conscious mind.
There is no correct or wrong answer for the use of human faces in a website, so you need to test and understand the customer’s mind and act accordingly.
Hope you enjoy the article and all the comments and criticisms are welcome 🙂