The science behind Manchester United’s decisions to change kits at that infamous game

If you are a football fan, it may have felt like deja vu when current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer announced that Man United planned to change their stadium banner and seating in a bid to improve team performance.  Almost 25 years ago, former manager Sir Alex Ferguson instructed his players to change their grey shirts in a match against Southampton because players were struggling to pick each other out.

While many may laugh at the ‘bizarre’ decision, the science behind our technology demonstrates that changes in colours can have a direct impact on our perception to notice things and thus how quick we make decisions.

Saliency is the state or quality by which something stands out from its surroundings. Saliency typically arises from contrasts between items and their neighbourhood, such as a red dot surrounded by white dots, a red shirt against a black background, or a motion advert.

In a recent interview, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Some of the players have mentioned that split-second decision you have to make where you look over your shoulder to see if your team-mate is there or not and the red shirt is on a red background with red seats…so we’ve tried to change that.”

 A research study conducted by inventors of Dragonfly AI: Professor Peter W. McOwan and Dr Hamit Soyel from the Cognitive Sciences Research Group at Queen Mary University of London, demonstrated that depending on how visually prominent you are, could help with split second decisions in team sports, for example; detecting your teammate as early as possible to increase your decision precision. It is this same research conducted many years ago, that still rings true today.

Insights from visual attention and perception are also important when analysing adverts. As advertising agencies fight for advertising space in football stadiums and the grand prix to promote brands, analysing the visual saliency of your content is paramount to understanding how it stands out in its surroundings and grabs audience’s attention.

Dragonfly AI uses three key metrics to evaluate the performance of adverts:

  • Probability of Perception (PoP) – the percentage of consumers who are likely to notice each element at first glance.
  • Share of Attention (SoA) – the percentage of attention given to each element of your content.
  • Location Attention Score (LAS) – the average level of saliency of each area of an element within your content.

These three metrics can give you an in-depth understanding of how your content is likely to perform, giving you instant insight before it even completes the design stage.

Want to understand more about how Dragonfly can help you?


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