Measuring Emotional Response to Eye Tracking Ads
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November 17, 2010 by dbrendant,

Investigators have been using eye tracking again, this time to determine how advertisers can use emotion and attention patterns to monitor consumers as they watch online advertisements.

In the paper, authored by Thales Teixeira of Harvard Business School, Michel Wedel of the University of Maryland, and Rik Pieters of Tillburg University in the Netherlands, eye tracking was used to track a group of 58 students and staff members from a major Northeastern American university. Each participant was shown 28 video ads that were embedded in web pages as post rolls, or ads that are shown after the original video content.

About half of the ads were chosen for evoking joy in the form of a smile or laughter, and sometimes surprise (they performed a few prior tests to determine this). The ads featured were advertising various categories like beverages, CPGs, telecom services, cleaning products, and financial services. Other videos shown were chosen for their non-emotional, neutral feeling while advertising the same categories of products. These more neutral ads were interspersed with the ads that evoked feelings of joy so to reduce the mental load on participants, the paper states.

Each participant was seated in a quiet room at a 17-inch monitor equipped with an eye tracking device consisting of a separate camera that was mounted to the top of the screen. The camera recorded facial expressions from the subjects as they were shown four minutes of a sitcom show followed by the ads.

The goal was to get the participant relaxed enough so to recreate the feeling they might have while watching reruns of TV shows on the web, but still being exposed to video ads.

Each subject could watch the ad through to the end or click the space bar to jump to the next one. If they clicked on the link at the bottom of the page, the site would navigate them to the advertiser’s page, which showed additional information on each product.

Researchers monitored the focus of attention for each participant using Tobii eye tracking equipment and measured the subjects’ eye movement as they maneuvered through the series of ads and links.