Monday, April 28, 2008

Layout of advertisements

- information value and salience;
- left and right: given and new;
- top and bottom: ideal and real.

Kress and van Leeuwen define "compositon" as the relation of the "representational and interactive meanings of the picture to each other" through interrelated systems of information value, salience and framing. Framing, as discussed in Unit 15, connects or differentiates elements of layout through elements that imply division or by actual frame lines. Here we concentrate on systems of information value and salience, as defined below.

Information value

Elements placed in specific "zones" of an image carry corresponding informational values. The division of the page into left and right, top and bottom, and center and margins define these zones. The image to the left summarizes the zones and their corresponding informational values: given and new, ideal and real, nucleus and dependents.


Elements are given varying levels of salience---they attract the viewer's attention to different degrees. Salience is created through relative choices in color, size, sharpness and placement. Often, vectors created by the shape and placement of elements help lead the eye from one element to another, in order of decreasing salience.

Left and right: given and new

Elements placed to the left of the page's vertical axis are presented as "given" pieces of information, or things that the viewer already knows; "new" elements on the right are not yet known or agreed upon. The values of given and new in an advertisement's elements are assumed by the advertiser, and it is up to the viewer to accept or reject the roles as presented. Take a look at the following advertisements using a "given and new" layout.

Note: In many advertisements that use a "before and after" appeal, "before" is placed on the left and "after" on the right; it is given that everyone shares problems, and the advertiser has a new solution for them.

Top and bottom: ideal and real

A sense of contrast is presented through layouts based on the vertical axis. Elements in the upper part of the page appeal to the viewer's emotions, expressing "what might be." The bottom elements have an informative appeal, showing "what is." These contrasting appeals can be assigned the values of ideal and real, where "ideal" elements are more salient and simply contain the general essence of information; "real" elements give practical and specific information.

68. Torengos actually uses a double Ideal-Real format. First of all, the Ideal "scientific" approach to dip capacity ("measured" in grams of salsa) shows that one chip holds more than anything but a bulldozer. In contrast to that potential Ideal, the Real is presented as the chip holding some salsa. So, the advertisement invites the reader to quit worrying about science and just eat something.

Ideal: You don't need to know the details of "dip capacity" to see that Torengos holds a lot of dip./Advertisers can give you more information than necessary.

Real: See the proof that Torengos holds a lot of dip./This is all you need to know.

Then, these two parts are presented as Ideal with the product container as Real: now you know what you want (Ideal), here is what to look for (and where).

Ideal and Real are expressed in an interesting way in 43 Aveda (right), which has the product image, name and description on top, with an Image component of 3 images in the bottom 60%. We can compare this with 43 Avedaflip which has the "expected" arrangement.


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