If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the path our eyes follow must reveal something about us too. For most of us, view is the primary sense by which we perceive our surroundings. When presented with a scene, such as a webpage, the places we look and how our gaze moves act as an indication of our attention and interest. Eye tracking is what neuromarketers use to track the elements of a website, app or point of sale that draw the gaze and, therefore, attention of a customer.
How does it work?
Humans have a field of vision of about 190 degrees, but it’s not homogenous. It is in fact divided into three zones, starting at the fovea. This is the central 3-5% of your field of vision, where images are the clearest. Moving out from that area to your binocular vision, where images become slightly less clear, and your peripheral vision is even less clear than that.
To see this in action, try focusing on a single point in a busy scene. Then, without moving your visual focus from that point, try to discern details about the objects around it. The first thing you’ll notice is that detail beyond colour and shape is tricky to make out. The second thing you’ll notice is how hard it is to keep your gaze on a point where your attention isn’t focused. Our instinct is to keep our gaze on whatever we think deserves the most attention in our visual field.
With this principle in mind, eye tracking uses infrared sensors to detect where the fovea is focused at any given time. Software then allows Neuromarketers to visualize gaze patterns graphically and quantitatively in order to interpret the behaviour of a participant.
Why is eye tracking a great neuromarketing tool?
Tracking the eye path makes it possible to evaluate the performance of a visual communication, such as a product, web page or app. One can see the most viewed areas, the most attention-grabbing visual cues, the time someone spends on a certain point, the order in which cues were viewed, etc. This provides unique insights into the way a customer navigates the space or product, and how it can be optimised to help the customer along the desired path. For example, if you run an eCommerce website, how long do a customer’s eyes search before they find the “add to basket” option? Where is their gaze drawn if not to that option?
Eye tracking is relatively easy to set up and the equipment is easy to transport. For testing websites and apps, a webcam, eye tracking sensor and the dedicated software are all that are needed. For experiments in the field, such as shopper journey evaluations, eye tracking glasses can be used. They allow the user to move freely while navigating their environment. Eye tracking can also be used with virtual reality goggles, so consumers can navigate several spaces in one sitting.
Eye tracking is only one part of the puzzle, however. While it teaches us a lot about how people navigate a space or where their attention is drawn, it does not provide insights into their state of mind or cognitive processes. Eye tracking is therefore best used in conjunction with measures such as GSR, EEG or facial coding.
Neural Sense partnered with Pick n Pay, South Africa’s second largest supermarket chain, to assess the shopper journeys of customers in their new, ‘Fresh Look’ stores. They were also interested in how customers navigate certain customer categories: what drives them towards a purchase decision? Find out more about it here.