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It’s never been easier to be distracted around the clock. We now have a myriad of digital devices at our fingertips to help us while away the time on a bus, waiting for a friend, and especially during TV commercial breaks. Knowing where and how we split our attention can help advertisers improve their strategies and more effectively get their messages across. Eye tracking is particularly well-suited to this type of research, as it accurately records and measures visual attention.
“In-home studies using eye tracking allow participants to behave naturally and data can easily be collected unmoderated and passively. This is then analyzed by our research team for valuable insights into what actually captures peoples’ attention.”
Head of Service, Tobii Pro Insight
Google partnered with Tobii Pro’s research consultancy, Tobii Pro Insight, to find out what people are actually paying attention to while being exposed to advertisements. In particular, the tech giant wanted to know what people’s TV viewing behaviors were like and how other they divided their attention between various sources of distraction, either digital or offline, such as cooking, cleaning, or doing chores.
Eye tracking glasses were given to 34 participants aged 18-50. They were asked to wear them at home for one week while going about their normal activities such as watching television, or using their computer, tablet, or phone. The eye tracking glasses recorded where the participants were looking while wearing them, allowing the research team to see exactly how they distributed their visual attention. In total, more than 775 hours of media exposure was recorded.
The eye tracking data revealed that television was the most popular form of media consumed, accounting for 537 hours of exposure, however the gaze of participants was directed away from it for one-third of that time. While people distracted themselves with handheld devices frequently during TV commercial breaks, it was actually offline activities like talking to someone in the room or doing chores which distracted participants the most. It was also discovered that the longer the commercial break, the more people’s attention drifted, however they still captured attention for half of the time that they ran.
If you’d like to learn more about the study and its results you can read more here.