Eye Tracking Predicts the Success of Your Ads

By: Sticky
on June 25, 2015

In a study with 500 respondents we tested the same ads on different sites and in different positions. The result showed that not only did the likelihood that an ad would be seen differ between placements, but the time spent looking at it differed as well. And, maybe even more surprisingly, likeability for the same ad differed between ad placements.

Yes, that’s right; the same ad was more liked in some positions than in others. This would indicate that ad placement is key, not only to getting seen, but also to how the ad is perceived.

Read on to see how this can help you increase ROI on your next campaign.

It’s just a matter of time…

The result in the above mentioned study is not an anomaly. We see this it all the time when testing ads, packages, web pages and... well, just about anything. For instance, in one study we placed the image of a puppy in different positions on a screen together with other images. Then we sent each of these out to be viewed by separate groups of people. 

And sure enough, likeability for the puppy shifted with its position on screen.  In fact, moving it from the bottom right corner to the center gave a 1.7 times higher survey likeability score – for the same puppy.

How’s this possible? The explanation spells TIME.

There is a strong correlation between the time we spend looking at something and our perception of, and ability to remember that object. In the puppy study, the average time spent looking at it (stickiness) increased more than 4 times just by moving it from the bottom right position to the center of the screen. And that extra time, in turn, translates into to increased likeability.

And it doesn’t just apply to cute puppies. In the ad study the positive correlation between time spent on the ad and the likeability expressed was equally obvious at 0.6. 

Time and Liking: A well know relation

And we’re definitely not alone in seeing this connection, nor the first ones exploring it. Many researchers have studied the impact of time on memory and emotion. For instance, in his book The Advertised Mind, Erik du Plessis attributes the difference between what people see and what they recognize or recall to – yes you guessed it – how long they spend looking at it.

Du Plessis points to a positive relationship among the three variables likeability, recall and effectiveness and claims that views lasting shorter than 0.75 seconds result in less recall while ad views lasting more than 2.75 seconds increased readers’ recall of the ad. Interestingly, that also resonates well with the conclusion neuroscientists and psychologists studying the almost metaphysical question of how long a ‘now’ is have reached; they have amassed evidence indicating that ‘now’ lasts on average between 2 and 3 seconds.

Other researchers have looked closer at how advertising likeability translates to brand likeability and some claim that advertising liking is one of the most important determinants of brand liking*.

Get sticky!

All in all, this means that successful ads are ads that 'stick' in readers minds by holding their attention longer. Pretesting ads and ad placement on seen and stickiness will predict their success.

Ok, so how do you do sticky ads. Check out our infographic for 8 Insights which DOUBLE the visual engagement of your content 


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