What is eye-tracking technology?
Eye tracking quite simply involves the recording and analysis of any movement in our eyes, examining where we look and where we gaze our attention. In market research, we can use eye tracking to allow us to see how individuals react to different marketing messages. It enables us to understand an individual’s cognitive engagement with different stimulus in real time, showing us where interest lies, what is overlooked and how the pupil responds to different stimuli.
An infrared light source is used to illuminate the eye, and a camera records the way this light is reflected off the cornea. Algorithms then calculate the position of the eye to determine exactly where the individual focuses. It also measures the number of blinks and any changes in the diameter of the pupil and is ultimately collected into an eye tracking data software to help researchers to understand what actually lies behind ‘the wandering eye’.
3 ways eye tracking technology is a useful tool in market research
It helps us to understand what parts of the stimuli are ignored and what is important and focused on, narrowing in to that one aspect that captured the eye of the individual. In today’s world, we are bombarded with advertisements and marketing messages appearing on websites, mobile apps and the television. They have become impossible to ignore. As a result, most people, the younger generations in particular, tend to zone out from what they usually see as they have become accustomed to seeing similar ads day in day out.
Eye tracking research can now offer a new, innovative way of testing whether your marketing messages really are effective to your target audience. It allows you to understand what aspects draw them in and what parts are overlooked, ensuring that you get the best out of your messaging in such a crowded space.
It reinforces “seeing your business from the customer’s perspective” and is a huge step towards understanding what actually drives a customer’s emotions at a subconscious level.
It is an emerging technique within market research, allowing us to catch someone’s eye, as well as understanding what it was that actually caught it. It moves away from thinking a marketing message was not in an optimum location on the screen, wasn’t sized large enough, or was placed after other marketing messages by more prominent brands. Eye tracking allows you to measure and quantify the visual impact of your marketing material.
Finally, eye tracking ensures that data captured is completely accurate and allows us to confidently provide valuable insights back to our clients. It eliminates queries over reliability and validity of results as this type of tracking minimises recall errors and the social desirability effect which conventional research methods usually miss. It is a research method used to tap into the subconscious, unravelling hidden drivers of behaviour, which individuals may otherwise struggle to consciously recall.
Whilst the ideas behind eye tracking technology are decades old, its applications are used everywhere; in education, understanding attention spans and ensuring pupils receive the help and support they require; in the medical world helping to diagnose mental health disorders and in gaming and virtual reality, where your device reacts to what you see in real time. Market researchers are taking advantage of this technology to understand what lies behind successful marketing stimulus – what works for your brand and how we can optimise the little space we have in order to capture an individual’s attention.