Eye Tracking for Ads: Going From “Heat” to Emotion

By now we hope you’ve heard of Enquiro’s Eye Tracking Report and have been inspired as much as we have by the results. Interestingly, in this month’s issue of Business 2.0, a related study aimed towards gauging the effectiveness of TV ads by measuring the saccadic motion of an ad viewer’s eyes, uses a technology that we think could potentially be put to similarly good use on web-based content:

“The system, called eMotion, uses a PC-connected camera to measure the saccadic motion of viewers’ eyes—the subtle eyeball vibrations that increase when we see something of interest. PreTesting follows up with an interview to determine how much the viewers remember. Then a proprietary algorithm gives ad execs instant feedback on how well the spot worked.”

“Viewers should be engaged but not so visually stimulated for the full 30 seconds that they don’t take in any verbal information. ‘This could be revolutionary,’ he says. ‘Advertisers will finally be able to understand which ads are working.’ Weinblatt’s favorite example, from his beta-testing, was an ad for Dr. Scholl’s massaging gel insoles. It featured a leggy model emerging from a swimming pool, which sent the eyes of his male subjects vibrating. When the model turned out to be wearing high-heel shoes, his female subjects got excited. Then the ad cut to nothing but text and voice-over, letting the information sink in.”

As far as integrating such technology within the web environment, it could potentially fill the gap between “where the eyes go” and “what the mind thinks” when they go there. So when extending eye tracking beyond just identifying hotspots to examining actual levels of interest in the areas that the eyes are focusing on, we get even one step deeper into the mind of the visitor. And for video content, flash tutorials, or multimedia ads, the implications are very exciting.

According to the article, such testing is available for $2000 per TV ad – and with production budgets averaging $381,000 per 30 minute national TV slots, it is quite a small price to pay for effectiveness measurement in the context of television advertising. Obviously, for web applications, a web-specific algorithm would need to be developed (if one hasn’t been already), and a lower price point would make it a bit more feasible for the web industry. Look out heat maps, here come thought maps…

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