Advertising research and eye tracking

Tobii Glasses 2 advertising testing

Knowing what consumers see is a vital first-step to ensuring marketing effectiveness. Eye tracking offers a unique method to objectively measure consumers’ attention and spontaneous responses to advertising.

Instead of asking people to recall their reactions or describe their cognitive engagement, eye tracking lets you see it, in real time. It minimizes recall errors and the social desirability effect, and reveals information conventional research methods normally miss. Eye tracking gives essential benefits in all areas of advertising; online, print, TV, and out-of-home media.

Latest publications where Tobii eye trackers have been used:


Eye tracking in studies of online marketing

Eye tracking complements view and click statistics, in studies of e-commerce websites, banner advertising, email campaigns, electronic newsletters, and in-game advertising. Showing whether an ad is seen or not, it provides new online branding measurements.

These gaze plot and heat map visualizations reveal that website visitors do not see the special offers, a phenomenon often referred to as “banner blindness”.

Gaze plot   Heatmap website






Refining format, layout, placement, and online messages, advertisers can induce action and increase brand impact.

Eye tracking of print advertising

Used in copy-testing print advertisements during the creative process, eye tracking can guide researchers regarding which alternative to develop further and how to optimize it.

  • To what extent are key elements such as the brand and product seen?
  • How much attention does an ad get relative to competing brands and editorial content in a magazine context?

These heat map visualizations show how the unexpected element in a magazine ad attracts attention and how the respondents process the key message and the brand.

Heatmap visualization     Heatmap advertisement

A well designed ad can increase attention and interest, plus impact readership, persuasion and brand recall.

Video demonstration of copy-testing

Out-of-home media and in-store marketing

Mobile eye tracking solutions enable research of advertising displays and POP materials in real-world environments like a bar, airport, or grocery store. For instance, it can be used to measure how efficient beer mats, towels, taps, buckets, or menus in a bar are at influencing the purchase decision or building brand value.


Eye tracking of mobile advertising

Mobile phones are increasingly being used for web surfing, are always with us and are seldom left unattended. Mobile advertising is rapidly growing and considered to have an edge over other forms of advertising because the mobile phone is an individual device.

Eye tracking_Mobile advertising_heat map_Tablet PCEye tracking can reveal the effectiveness of email campaigns, mobile ad banners, landing pages, and game advertising. Moreover, it can help companies to optimize mobile advertising to limited screen sizes, touch screens and mobile users’ behavior.

  • How is the consumer’s attention distributed over a mobile web page?
  • How are ads and pages seen on different devices and screens?
  • Where does the consumer look for certain information or options (such as call to action)?

Efficient and accurate eye tracking solutions that allow for natural interaction with mobile devices are enabled using standalone eye trackers. Respondents can hold the device, rotate the device between landscape and portrait modes, and interact with it from a comfortable viewing angle. Fixed setups allow for data aggregation in quantitative studies.

For larger devices and qualitative studies, mobile eye trackers can be used that allow for completely free movement. Mobile interfaces can also be onscreen tested using an emulator (works like a virtual mobile phone on a computer screen).

Read more in our White Paper: Using Eye Tracking to Test Mobile Devices.

Gaze replay video clip from testing mobile advertising (stand-alone eye tracker)

Gaze replay video clip from testing of Apple iPad (mobile eye tracker)

TV sports marketing and product placement

Eye tracking offers a unique method to determine whether TV viewers engaged in a game actually look at a brand, complementing traditional efficiency measurers assimilated from a mix of visibility and audience.

These heat maps show to what extent viewers look at brands and locations such as jerseys, balls, and sideline signs.

Heatmap rugby game   Heatmap rugby   A third heatmap rugby game

Similarly eye tracking can be used to validate the effectiveness of product placement in commercial TV programming and movies.

Eye tracking of TV commercials

TV advertisers already know what commercial or program consumers are watching and when they channel surf. But they do not know what viewers see or when their attention begins to drift. Eye tracking can show how different elements in a TV commercial draw or drop visual attention.

  • What do users see before they quit watching?
  • How do brand exposure patterns influence commercial avoidance?

Eye tracking allows for detailed refinement of an ad before money is spent on development and implementation, and can be used to measure how viewer perception and behavior evolve during the campaign period.

Tobii Pro eye tracking solutions

Tobii Pro’s range of eye trackers includes options for different studies and test scenarios. Our screen eye trackers provide easy-to-use and highly accurate solutions for quick and cost-efficient testing on-screen, including widescreen options for displaying magazine spreads and other large format media.

Our stand-alone eye trackers can be used for both screen and real-world stimuli setups. The compact Tobii X2-30 Eye Tracker can be snapped on to a laptop or all-in-one PC, providing a highly portable eye tracking solution for cost efficient testing in the field. The Tobii X60 and X120 Eye Trackers can be used in studies of larger displays such as a TV, or when more fine grained data is required, such as in studies of physical magazines or mobile interfaces.

The Tobii Glasses Eye Tracker provides total freedom of movement for respondents in real-world environments. Its discreet and ultra lightweight design ensures that respondents behave naturally. System-guided procedures make it easy to use the eye tracking system while automated data aggregation provides efficiency in studies involving multi-person analysis.

No matter what Tobii Pro eye tracker is used, Tobii Studio eye tracking software provides efficient tools for qualitative and quantitative data analysis and visualization. Researchers who want to develop their own applications can download the Tobii Software Development Kit at no cost.

Our in-house experts are accustomed to using eye tracking in advertising research and can provide any necessary eye tracking training and support.