1st of March 2019

Published by WARC See original article

How biometrics can track attention to TV ads

Biometric methods like eye tracking and skin conductance are a powerful resource for measuring the attention received by television advertising, according to a new study in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

The paper – entitled Best measures of attention to creative tactics in TV advertising: When do attention-getting devices capture or reduce attention? – addressed the “three levels of attention that generally apply to television viewing”.

More specifically, it used the biometric techniques of eye tracking, skin conductance and heart rate to study pre-attention (that is, inattention), focal attention (paying attention) and comprehension, using a sample of 100 TV ads with “known in-market sales-effectiveness results”.

And, the analysis said: “Eye tracking is a good measure of focal and higher (visual) attention, because the number of fixations had high correlations with traditional outcome measures of attention, such as brand recall and advertisement liking.”

But the study – written by Steven Bellman, Magda Nenycz-Thiel, Rachel Kennedy and Nicole Hartnett, all from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, University of South Australia, and Duane Varan, from research firm MediaScience – also had some bad news for brands using TV spots.

“The decline in arousal after an advertisement begins – measured by skin conductance level – suggests that viewers disengaged from television content once they recognized the content as advertising,” it found.

Elaborating further on the results of the underlying analysis, the study – a “Digital First” article from the Journal of Advertising Research – highlighted how biometric techniques offer even more granular insights.

“Later in the advertisement, when viewers had a low level of arousal and attention, heart rate and skin conductance still were able to respond to the appearance of certain attention-getting creative devices (e.g., voiceovers, pack shots, animals),” it said.

“In the results, for example, pack shots, which typically are shown at the end of an advertisement when arousal is low, still were able to attract attention responses measured by heart rate.

“This momentary attention to the pack shot only served to reduce arousal further measured by skin conductance level, however. Most likely for this reason, showing the packaging had negative effects on brand recall and advertisement liking.”

Read the full article on WARC.

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