Interactive Graphic Novels: A Hybrid Advertising Technique

By Mike Ayer
Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications
2014, Vol. 5 No. 2 | pg. 2/2 |

Methodology

A content analysis was used to determine implications regarding the above research questions. Since IGNs are new and relatively unstudied, this research took an exploratory approach.

Five interactive graphic novels were selected for the content analysis. Each IGN was found by searching “interactive graphic novel” via Twitter. The pool found through the Twitter search was narrowed to include IGNs that related to a particular brand or concept. The first five located were used in the present study. The researcher coded the IGNs for six categories. They are type of message and the following five categories.

Narrative Structure

It was necessary to record the narrative structure to bring to light Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm and to note whether persuading through storytelling can be applied to this research. In the current study, IGNs can either be linear or non-linear. Linear stories consist of a fixed plot that cannot be altered, while non-linear refers to a plot that can be altered.

Level of Interactivity

This researcher recorded the level of interactivity to see if different levels of interactivity impacted popularity, length, or other aspects of IGNs. Three levels of interactivity were considered:

  • A low level of interactivity requires a user to simply click through or scroll through content like turning a page in a book.
  • A medium level of interactivity is classified as having the ability to zoom, parallax-scrolling features, the ability to interact with the content in some way, sound effects, videos, etc.
  • A high level of interactivity is classified as giving the users the ability to change the outcome of the narrative structure (non-linear).

Rich-Media Features

Rich-media features refer to the way in which various media is presented. Examples include:

  • Pop-ups: content that automatically appears at a certain point in the story
  • Animation: moving graphics
  • Audio: background audio and pre-timed audio
  • Videos: clickable videos that offers more content
  • Illustrations

Twitter posts

Many web developers and content designers regularly share content that they find interesting with their social networks. For this reason Twitter posts were recorded to gauge online popularity for each IGN used in this study. The number of positive posts was recorded.

Length

Each IGN is measured as short, medium, or long, depending on its total length. A short IGN generally takes less than one minute to complete; less then two minutes for a medium IGN, and more than two minutes for a long IGN.

Findings and Discussion

Appealing to Multiple Perceptual Systems

New web technologies give developers and marketers the power to add sound and interactivity to static and moving visuals like never before. It is evident through this research that appealing to multiple perceptual systems increases the effectiveness of a communicated message. IGNs have the ability to better immerse users into storylines on a deeper level than traditional narratives and literary devices. Eisner (1985) states that pictorial writings give readers a chance to become active participants in stories by presenting content in graphically appealing and stimulating ways, such as through the use of speech bubbles or comic book like scenes. The IGNs used in this research paper commonly used sound, touch and feel through interactivity, and visuals so that they can appeal to different human senses and make a narrative more interesting and engaging. Wurman (2000) states that “Interaction with information is what enables possession.” One can conclude that the more senses targeted through IGNs, the more likely an audience member will absorb the information.

Using Sound To Create Mood

Sound was present in a number of the IGNs used in this research. In many cases, background sound was used to set the mood. In the case of The Walking Dead - Zombiefied, developers incorporated the show’s opening title audio sequence to help users further connect to the show. This music was played throughout. Peugeot HYbrid4 played timed audio arrangements as users scrolled through the narrative. Each scene would trigger and repeatedly play audio relevant to the activated scene. Ryse Digital Interactive Graphic Novel Issue 1 used audio on specific interactive elements. Users clicked on a character and relevant audio would play.

Pacing and Visuals

Primary research uncovered that visuals were enhanced mainly by user-controlled movement. Similar to traditional video, images within IGNs have the ability to move around screen in pre-determined ways to create a more aesthetically pleasing experience. Unlike traditional video, however, IGNs give users the ability to control the pace. In America: Elect! graphics are enhanced by using the parallax scrolling technique. George-Palilonis and Spillman (2013) stated that people could more accurately remember content when they were in control of the rate at which information was consumed. This phenomenon can be used to create more memorable messages in online and mobile advertisements where the user has the ability to impact the pace of information consumption without disrupting the narrative.

Advertising and marketers can use the findings on interactivity and pacing to develop tactics that could potentially replace traditional online commercials. Adding interactive elements to web commercials, like those seen on Hulu.com, could potentially have a huge impact on message communication and online advertising.

IGNs and Social Sharing

Twitter posts were recorded to cross-examine IGNs and their online popularity. This cross analysis was important to gain insights on how social media can increase ad value. Two occurrences were observed:

  1. The level of interactivity and Twitter posts were positively correlated.
  2. Length and Twitter posts were negatively correlated.

The positive correlation between the level of interactivity and Twitter posts is most likely due to their novelty aspect. Radford and Bloch (2011) found that people showed positive responses to novel products when compared to products that they were familiar with. IGNs with a high level of interactivity suggest that people were more excited to interact with the advanced technology and less excited about IGNs categorized as having a low level of interactivity. The Walking Dead - Zombiefied, which had the most rich-media features in the selected sample, had the most number of tweets.

The negative correlation between length and Twitter posts may be explained by online users’ short attention span. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span for an online user is only eight seconds (“Attention Span Statistics”). Ryse Digital Interactive Graphic Novel Issue 1, the longest IGN included in this study, also had the least number of Twitter posts. The Walking Dead - Zombiefied, considered a short IGN, had the most. .

IGNs And the Uses and Gratification Theory

In a previous section, this research outlined and described the three underlying constructs of the Uses and Gratification Theory: entertainment, informativeness, and irritation. It was stated earlier that the “value of media and entertainment lies in its ability to satisfy a user’s need for escapism, hedonistic pleasure, aesthetic enjoyment, and/or emotional release” (McQuail, 1983). The IGNs studied in this paper show that the inclusion of narrative aspects can enhance a user’s attempt at escapism. By using the traditional comic and graphic novel framework, IGNs allow users to enhance their ability to become active participants in the content. By pairing traditional comic and graphic novel techniques with interactive and rich-media features, developers can add to the overall experience and immerse the user into the content on a deeper level where he/she can have a deeper emotional response.

Recommendations For Future Research

This researcher found it interesting that the short attention spans of online users could have an impact on the popularity of online content and the message retention of an advertisement. The attention span of online users was not a key element to this research. However, studying the effect that rich-media and interactivity has on the average attention span of online users would possibly yield important results for crafting online ad content.

It would also be beneficial for future research to focus on interactive advertising in an attempt to find value in replacing traditional online advertising such as web commercials and online banners with interactive content, while focusing on how interactive elements impact ad effectiveness and user response.

Conclusion

In summation, the present study supports the notion that IGNs are a sustainable tactic for advertising and marketing professionals with the means to create them. If anything, IGNs ability to appeal to multiple human senses makes it a powerful tool to communicate messages. IGNs are also able to harness the power of persuading through storytelling. At the present time, IGNs are a rather new concept, so online users have repeatedly praised them. Attempting to harness the power of social media will continue to serve as a challenge to advertising and marketing professionals.

It should be noted that some IGNs had a social media feature, so users can automatically post a tweet about the IGN. Also, future research can include more IGNs to gain more generalizable insights.


Acknowledgements

Dr. Neemah Clark was the research advisor of this paper.


References

Attention Span Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/

Appiah, O. (2006). Rich media, poor media: the impact of audio/video vs. Text/picture testimonial ads on browsers’ evaluations of commercial web sites and online products. Journal Of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 28(1), 73-86.

Bauer, R. A., & Greyser, S. A. (1968). Advertising in America: The consumer view, Boston, MA: Harvard University.

Biederman, I., & Vessel, E. A. (2006). Perceptual pleasure and the brain. American Scientist, 94, 249-255.

Brown, J. S., & Duguid P. (2000). The social life of information. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Carrier, D. (2000). The aesthetics of comics. University Park: Penn State University Press.

Chen, Q., & Wells, W. D. (1999). Attitude toward the site, Journal of Advertising Research, 39(5) , 27-37.

Coyle, J. R., & Thorson, E. (2001). The effects of progressive levels of interactivity and vividness in web marketing sites. Journal of Advertising 30(3), 65-77.

Ducoffe, R. H. (1995). How consumers assess the value of advertising, Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 17(1), 1-18.

Ducoffe, R. H. (1996), advertising value and advertising on the web, Journal of Advertising Research, 36(5), 21-35.

Eighmey, J. (1997), profiling user responses to commercial web sites, Journal of Advertising Research, 37(3), 59-67.

Eisner, Will. (1985). Comics & sequential art. Tamarac, FL: Poorhouse.

Figueiredo, Sergio. (2011). Building worlds for an interactive experience: Selecting, organizing, and showing worlds of information through comics. Journal of Visual Literacy 30(1), 86-100.

Fisher, W. (1984). Narration as a human communication paradigm: The case of public moral argument. Communication Monographs, 51. Retrieved from http://ftp.cleary.edu/6%20Credit%20Classes/MGT%20485/Narration%20as%20a%20Human%20Communication%20Paradigm.pdf

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Persuasive technology: Using computers to change what we think and do. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann.

Frederick, D. M. (2013). The effects of parallax scrolling on user experience and preference in web design. Department of Computer Graphics Technology Degree Theses, Purdue University. Retrieved form http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1025&context=cgttheses

George-Palilonis, J., & and Spillman M. (2013). Storytelling with interactive graphics: An analysis of editors’ attitudes and practices. Visual Communication Quarterly 20(1) 20-27.

Hairong Li and John D. Leckenby (2004), internet advertising formats and effectiveness. Available at http://sites.google.com/site/champtec/ad_format_print.pdf

Hassenzahl, M., & Tractinsky, N. (2006). User experience-a research agenda. Behaviour & Information Technology, 25(2), 91-97

Heo, N., & Sundar S. (2000, June). Visual orientation and memory for web advertising: A study of animation and position effects. Paper Presented at the Information Systems Division of the 50th Annual Convention of the International Communication Association. Retrieved from http://www.psu.edu/dept/medialab/researchpage/newabstracts/position.html

Hill, R. P., & Moran, N. (2011). Social marketing meets interactive media: Lessons for the advertising community. International Journal of Advertising 30(5), 815. .

LaRose, R., Mastro, D. A., & Eastin, M. S. (2001). Understanding Internet usage: A social cognitive approach to uses and gratifications. Social Science Computer Review, 19, 395-413.

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York: HarperPerennial.

McCloud, S. (2006). Making comics: storytelling secrets of comics, manga and graphic novels. New York: Harper.

McQuail, D. (1983). Mass communication theory: An introduction. London: Sage Publications.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 2: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6), 1-6.

Radford, S. K., & Bloch, P. H. (2011). Linking innovation to design: Consumer responses to visual product newness. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(1), 208-220.

Reeves, B., & Ivar., C. (1996). The media equation: How people treat computers, television, and new media like real people and places. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Inf.

Sears, A., & Jacko, J. A. (2007). Future trends in human-computer interaction. The human-computer interaction handbook: Fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications, 1281-1290.

Stern, B., & Zaichowsky, J. L. ( 1991, January). The impact of ‘entertaining’ advertising on consumer responses. Australian Marketing Researcher, 14, 68-80.

Sundar, S. S., & Kalyanaraman, S. (2004). Arousal, memory, and impression-formation effects of animation speed in web advertising. Journal of Advertising 33(1), 7-17.

Sundar, S. S., & Kim, J. (2005). Interactivity and persuasion: influencing attitudes with information and involvement. Journal Of Interactive Advertising 5(2), 6-29.

Sundar, S. S., Otto, G., Pisciotta, L., & Schlag, K. (1997, July). Animation and priming effects in online advertising. Paper presented to the Advertising Division at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Chicago.

Weber, W., & Rall, H. (2012, May 23). Between data visualization and visual storytelling: The Interactive information graphic as a hybrid form. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, Phoenix, AZ.

Wise, K., Bolls, P., Kim, H., Venkataraman, A., & Meyer R. (2008). Enjoyment of advergams and brand attitudes: the impact of thematic relevance. The Journal of Interactive Marketing, 9(1), 27-36.

Wurman, R. (2000). Information anxiety 2 (Hayden/Que). Indianapolis: Que.

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

Graphic novels have become increasingly popular in the classroom as a means to engage English language learners (ELL) in new ways (Christensen, 2007). The accessible and diverse content of graphic novels can inspire critical discussions by encouraging students to become ‘agents’ of their own meaning-making experience... MORE»
Advertisement
Predicting the future of the news industry begins with understanding the history of newspapers and the current news delivery landscape. Because the Internet has brought fundamental shifts to news distribution, successful organizations of the future will capitalize on the digital world's economics and scale. This study documents... MORE»
Since its introduction in the late 1800s, coupons have transformed drastically to appeal to the changing needs and behaviors of the common consumer. Although still existing, the classic paper coupon went digital with the introduction of the Internet. Now, companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer discount gift certificates in a "deal-of-the-day" format. This research focused on the unique features of daily deal promotions and the impact they... MORE»
With products available in more than 180 countries, Procter & Gamble is one of the largest global advertisers. Considering today's global marketplace, it has become increasingly necessary for multinational companies... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP

Latest in Business & Communications

2016, Vol. 8 No. 11
In its beta release, Google Glass was positioned as a groundbreaking technology - a glimpse into a future that has long been promised in science fiction. It was met with media fanfare and consumer interest, despite costing more than most PCs on... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 7 No. 1
Predicting the future of the news industry begins with understanding the history of newspapers and the current news delivery landscape. Because the Internet has brought fundamental shifts to news distribution, successful organizations of the future... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 7 No. 1
Instagram allows users to share a snapshot of their lives with a mass audience in a matter of seconds. This capability and power has not gone unnoticed by celebrities, who are highly aware of the impact their social media accounts have on fans and... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 7 No. 1
Since its development, YouTube, the world's third most popular online destination, has transformed from a video-sharing site into a job opportunity for content creators in both new and mainstream media. Based on content analysis, the study examined... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 7 No. 1
Today, more than 15 million Americans practice yoga, making the ancient Indian discipline synonymous with the Western society's culture of wellness. As a way to market themselves, practitioners and instructors of yoga have utilized Instagram &ndash... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 7 No. 1
In 2014, Greenpeace launched an attack on a 50-year brand partnership between Danish toy company LEGO and Royal Dutch Shell, an oil and gas corporation. Through the analysis of Greenpeace's campaign and LEGO's responses over a three-month period... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 7 No. 1
Fun. Creative. Engaging. These adjectives may come to mind when thinking of the best places to work. But what makes a company culture successful? This study evaluated internal communications in companies deemed "Best Places to Work" by the Triangle... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

How to Manage a Group Project (Video)
Finding Balance in Graduate School
How to Use Regression Analysis Effectively