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We use our eyes to make sense of the environment that surrounds us. As we gather our attention at a specific point, our gaze maps occur. In other words, we tend to look at specific points more than others. You might ask a question like “What is the difference between the points that we look at the most and the least?”. The take-home point here is that what draws our attention the most. If we watch a video or look at an image, eye-tracking will help us find out which part of these videos or images could be helpful for the advertisement sector. 

What is Eye Tracking?

Eye movements are interesting in terms of advertising and more broadly because they provide powerful information on visual attention patterns. We have to move our eyes from one point to the other, sequentially looking directly at places that arouse our interest because we cannot process detailed information beyond the fovea which is the middle portion of the retina spanning roughly two of viewing angle. Our immediate cognitive or perceptual requirements dictate a major part of our saccade targets. As a result, eye movements are a key means for us to make active choices in our complicated visual environment. We may deduce how viewers selectively focus on the visual environment by inspecting the eye-tracking record. Whether we are reading, watching the scenery, searching for a targeted object, or viewing advertising as being of this text’s main point, eye tracking records give us important information.

The technique of measuring where we look, also known as our point of gaze, is referred to as eye-tracking. An eye tracker is used to take these measures, which record the position of the eyes and their motions. Eye-attached tracking, optical tracking, and electric potential measuring are the three basic forms of eye-trackers. Eye-tracking technology is being used in a variety of fields right now, including cognitive science, medical research, and human-computer interaction. Eye-tracking technology detects presence, attention, and focus as well as the position of an individual’s eye and pupil size. It is placed on or within the machine interface and uses the eye’s reflection of near-infrared light beams to calculate data about the individual.

Eye-tracking can be conducted either with equipment or without any equipment. If you want to know the reason why non-equipped eye-tracking started to be preferred more than the equipped one, just keep reading. The equipped eye-tracking process requires gathering all participants in a physical location, and due to this, mostly they end up gathering data from 30-35 participants. More participant means more accurate results, so despite its technological gadgets results end up being not very reliable. In addition, these technological devices are both expensive and thus more difficult to be measured. This brings us to the topic of webcam eye-tracking. Eye-tracking with a webcam has the potential to become an ubiquitous technique. All gadgets with inbuilt cameras can support this low-cost technology. Especially for marketing research, this technology could collect visual attention data from practically any demographic, at a low cost and in a short amount of time – exactly like an internet survey.

Think of the thermal cameras’ output. They turn out to have green, blue, yellow, and red according to the “heat” of the individual. Eye-tracking heat maps have similar outputs but as a result of a different process. Eye-tracking offers us our gaze maps. These gaze map videos will show us where each individual’s attention is drawn. The data shows the points individual’s attention is most with different color coding. These videos consist of mentioned colors and provide organized heat maps that incorporate eye-tracking data from all respondents. The eye-tracking heat map becomes more saturated as the overlap increases. 

Data from eye-tracking gives us unique and fascinating insights into human behavior. We are able to understand which movement or which image is more attention-grabbing with just a second difference of an individual’s gaze that looks at it. At the same time, we may digitalize how individuals interact with equipment and gadgets and offering a platform for businesses for building things like creative solutions and apps.

Why is eye-tracking important for market research?

In today’s marketing world, an advertisement’s window of opportunity is severely limited. What do you do when you encounter a YouTube ad while trying to watch a video or with a video ad while waiting for the new level of your gaming app? Many of us actively tune out advertisements as soon as we encounter them. This is an issue valid for all Television, print, and the Internet. According to some studies, the average customer is bombarded with up to 5,000 advertising every day. It is impossible for anyone to pay complete attention to all these advertisements. As a result, the consumer’s, thus our, eye has a multitude of information whether useful or not. Eye-tracking equipment has been used in a variety of consumer-related fields, most notably in research involving the internet world, such as determining the effectiveness of ad banners. This technique gives precise information on consumers’ visual attention patterns, fixations, and visualization patterns as mentioned above. 

In one study, researchers recorded individuals’ eye movements as they looked through yellow page ads and chose products from various categories as if they were going to buy them. Although small display ads obtained more fixations per unit area than large display ads, viewers were more inclined to glance at a large ad. Individuals are also more likely to fixate on colorful commercials rather than black and white ads, and individuals stared at color ads earlier and for longer periods. Furthermore, people spent slightly more time watching ads with pictures than ads without photos. If an advertiser wants to create a successful advertisement, an eye tracker is the most useful thing to rely on. 

The Importance of Attention in Advertising

      In the world of marketing, the value of attention cannot be overstated. When there is an advertisement, there is an advertisement message. When there is an advertisement message, advertisers want it to be remembered and people are able to remember these. Thus, in this equation, consumers as viewers serve as a bridge. As a result, for the advertisement message to be received and remembered, gaining and as we can guess maintaining viewers’ attention is essential. Due to the restricted and selective nature of human attention, not all the information on an advertisement can be understood and thus remembered. Exposing all the material at once is not a great choice if we consider this limitation. Consequently, estimating advertisement effectiveness using attention rather than exposure is more accurate. In addition, paying attention isn’t enough: people don’t recall everything they see. In other words, an advertisement message is sometimes cognitively processed and remembered by the viewer, and other times it is not. This brings us to the topic of human perception.

       Consumer attention and cognitive processing are both required for an advertisement message to be effective. Many studies on memory-based cognitive processing, presume that a salient input and repeated exposure inevitably result in attention. Yet, as we discussed, exposing all information at once or in the same advertisement would not be remembered nearly at all. It was proven that consumer attention is challenging to capture and maintain in competitive advertising situations. Consumers must process what they have seen for an advertising message to achieve its goal of persuasion. However, without attention, no further processing can take place to influence consumer decision-making in the future. Showing and, in relation with this, gripping attention, leads to more opportunities to encode and store messages. In addition, several eye-tracking studies have discovered a positive relationship between attention and memory. Furthermore, the approach used in a lot of advertisement repetition studies suggests that paying greater attention leads to better memory performance. In most of the studies conducted about this topic show consumers were compelled to fix their gaze on the advertising. 

What is Our Place in This Equation?

Thereupon talking about human perception being gripping, cracking eye gaze behavior of humans is one of the many things that we do. We take all these outputs online and present them with an end-to-end scaled analyzable research tool. With eye-tracking, attention rate, engagement levels of the consumer, remote heart rate detection, smart surveys, and micro-expression detection; we can make your advertisement to be attention gripping and remembered. Let’s listen to the mind of consumers together!

Sources:

Higgins, E., Leinenger, M., & Rayner, K. (2014). Eye movements when viewing advertisements. Frontiers in Psychology, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00210

Muñoz-Leiva, F., Hernández-Méndez, J., & Gómez-Carmona, D. (2019). Measuring advertising effectiveness in Travel 2.0 websites through eye-tracking technology. Physiology & Behavior, 200, 83–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.03.002

ooWon Lee & Jae-Hyeon Ahn (2012) Attention to Banner Ads and Their Effectiveness: An Eye-Tracking Approach, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 17:1, 119-137, DOI: 10.2753/JEC1086-4415170105

Tobii Tech. (2021, June 7). What is Eye Tracking? Discover how eye tracking works and it’s use cases. https://tech.tobii.com/technology/what-is-eye-tracking/

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