I’ve just returned from a fascinating afternoon of presentations on internet marketing best practices, put on by the Chicago Technology Executives Club. One of the speakers, Bob Schumacher PhD, of User Centric, discussed his company’s work doing consumer eye tracking analysis of web sites.
Specifically, they looked at ads. They attempt to learn where on a major site’s web page (examples: weather.com or imdb.com) are ads being noticed, and where are they being overlooked. By measuring the time people linger over certain ad units on certain web site pages, User Centric is helping to more fairly judge the branding power of online ads.
During the Q&A session, someone asked Dr. Schumaker what lessons he has learned about building an online ad that gets attention. Significantly, he had only one fact he could declare with certainty: Ads where someone is looking straight back at you attract a great deal of attention. Every time. All other techniques were more hit-and-miss, in his experience.
I share this tip at the risk of helping to trigger a trend in sites that scrutinize me as I check the sports and weather. But it’s too promising a technique to ignore.
According to carefully controlled eye tracking heat map results, following this suggestion can improve the odds that even if your ad doesn’t get a click, it will at least deliver some amount of brand value.