Eye Tracking Research Update: think about what you do with it

Eye Tracking Research Update: think about what you do with it

25th March 2010

For many eyetracking research is new, for many others its the holy grail. It tells you where people are looking at. This can tell you a lot. The session about eye tracking therefor attracted a good crowd. The speakers all took a different angle at eyetracking research and what to do with it. It turned out to be a very informative session which didn’t just make eyetracking look perfect but gave hands on insights in how to use these studies.

Speakers in this session were:
Anne F. Kennedy, SES Advisory Board, Founder & MP, Beyond Ink, FP & CMO, Joblr.net
Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive
Jeremi Karnell, Co-Founder & President, One to One Interactive
Susan Weinschenk, Chief of User Experience Strategy, Human Factors International

Shari Thurow

Shari Thurow kicks off. The scent of information is what you need to remember with eyetracking. She shows an example of her private life: a new years baby. She called her baby metallica. When they went to get coffee in the elevator they couldnt figure out where to go.

The scent of information is keywords. The search engines validate information scent. How do search engines provide information scent? Through highlighting, graphic images, video etcetera.

An navigational query is when a person wants to go to a website (63-80%) Transactional queries are the least done. You can see it in search engines because they put the specific topics on the right places.You can find the indicators of what people want right there in the searchengines. Sitelinks are a good example.

Eye tracking reveals how eyes move. It does not tell what people think, they could be looking at one thing and thinking about something else.

Good tip by Shari: users tent to ignore big pictures which look like ads. It also means you really have to think about what you put where to get the most out of it. If you have a big image, put relevant text below it.

People orient. First they orient at Google. They look at the confirmation the search is right, then they naturally go o colors

A lot of time people look at something because they are confused. Its really important to validate the information. Its important to understand your users intention. Make sure information scent matches goals and behaviors.

Jeremi Karnell

Second is Jeremi Karnell, Co-Founder & President, One to One Interactive
He shows the nuances universal search has on search behavior. His company has done research on this. He starts of with symbols. Why brands use symbols? To be fast recognizable. You’re going to have a reaction to symbols. Symbols go way back. We have used images to convey anything that is close to us.

It took Google a decade to go from a textual result page to one with images, videos, maps etcetera. Until 2007 it was text.

He talks about his research and how that was built up. They compared branded to unbranded terms.


Insight 1:

  • 17% fixated on video image first before natural and images.
  • Video links also received more clicks than the multilinks and the second natural links
  • Image link received more first fixations and clicks than the multilinks

Insight 2:

  • The F-patern which was there with natural dissapeared and replaced with a diamant patern

Insight 3:

  • Video and image results increase engagement on SERPS


Creating a holistic strategy which considers all search interactions will provide competitive advantage and drive more engaged visit0rs through your SEM activities

Start to think about your current digital assests and how they can be leveraged to gain aditional reach with search engines.

Susan Weinschenk

Third and final speaker is Susan Weinschenk, Chief of User Experience Strategy, Human Factors International.

Most of the prossesing what is going on around you is happening unconsioustly. Most of our decision making happens unconsiously. Which means if we ask them what they think, its consious, so less natural.

She talks about 7 traps to avoid using eyetracking studies:
We have the new brain, the mid brain and the old brain.

Trap 1: Underestimating the effect of what you ask people to do on where they look. What did you tell them to do?
Trap 2: Assuming that where people are looking is what they are paying attention to
Trap 3: (missed that sorry)
Trap 4: Underestimating the time that is needed to analyze the data
Trap 5: Underestimating the cost
Trap 6: Underestimating the amount of data you are going to get
Trap 7: Neglecting to draw useful, meaningful decisions and actins from the study


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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