What are people looking at? Eye Tracking Research

Eye tracking is another tool advertisers and marketers can use to better reach and engage with consumers. Knowing what your consumers are “seeing” is an important part in making a connection with them. And that connection can ultimately mean conversions.

Eye Tracking and Tablets

This week, we learned about research conducted by Poynter on how people read news on tablets. There are basically two different types of tablet users: intimate and detached. Intimate users are highly focused, keep constant contact with their tablet, and swipe often. Detached users are more likely to set up an entire screen of text and sit back and read. It didn’t surprise me that the research showed more people are “intimate” readers, because that seems to correlate with the research showing many of people have short attention spans when it comes to technology. Are you an “intimate” or “detached” user when reading news on a tablet?

The research also looked at how many stories users read and for how long. An average of a minute and a half was spent on the first story a person selected to read. I know I often don’t even get through a full story. I usually read the first couple of lines or paragraphs to get the gist of the story and move one to something else. Again, going back to that short attention span. I know I’m not alone in this type of behavior! The research showed visual elements or design helped to keep readers engaged. Do you often jump from story to story before finishing it? Do things like images or pullout quotes keep your attention? 

An important thing the eye tracking research revealed was the importance of responsive design, since people switch between vertical and horizontal views often depending on content. Have you ever thought about the way you hold your tablet? Do you prefer a more vertical orientation over horizontal or vice versa? What kind of content are you viewing? 

Eye Tracking and Facebook Graph Search

We also read about the new Facebook Graph Search this week. I had heard about it before this week, but didn’t really know about the specifics of the design and capabilities of this new element. It makes sense that query results are generated depending on a user’s likes, interests, and network. Unlike with regular search engines, “likes” serve more as SEO for Facebook. I think users will appreciate this aspect of the search, because obviously they’ve “liked” a page for a reason. Having that page show up in a search result would make sense for that specific user. It’s another way to filter information better. 

When it comes to eye tracking, I was a little surprised that more users weren’t drawn automatically first to the images (profile pictures). People do seem more attracted to the information, which is good. It was just surprising how little a profile picture or logo played a role. Maybe users don’t fixate on the picture because they already know or “like” the brand? Just a guess.

I just received the Graph Search look last week. Has Graph Search popped up on your profile yet? If so, what do you think? Have you done any searches? What has been your experience?

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7 thoughts on “What are people looking at? Eye Tracking Research

  1. I’m apparently an intimate reader… and the more I think about it, that’s probably because I’m also a compulsive multitasker. If I can keep focused in on a specific section, I’m more likely to pick up where i left off once I return to my reading from texting, changing the channel, getting a drink, whatever. I also tend to use my tablet horizontally, although it’s strictly vertical when using it as an ereader. There are definitely times where I jump ship before finishing an article, because there usually seems to be a point where they stop providing additional information and just rehash or give unimportant details. I don’t think those flashy items like graphics or quotes do anything to keep me on the page, but eye tracking may tell me otherwise.

    I don’t have graph search yet! I didn’t even know it was coming, which is strange considering my coworkers send out department-wide emails when there’s even a whisper of a new development. You should have seen the chain when rumors surfaced about Instagram adding video! Seems alright, though. From the minimal amount of time I’ve spent poking around it, I’m not sure I’ll use it all that much.

    • I like you Lenny am very easily distracted. I jump around as well when reading news on my tablet. And you make a good point, usually the most important information is at the beginning of a story. Once I get the gist, I’m ready to move on!

  2. I don’t know that I’m an intimate reader on a tablet when reading news. I don’t feel as though the description fits me. I tend to zoom in as much as I can but not to the point that sentences get cut off. Then I can read the article without having to move the page.

    I do tend to jump from story to story, especially if there are links within the story that draw my attention. It feels more natural to hold a tablet in the horizontal position. It doesn’t feel as heavy that way. Most of the content I view is in the social space like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

    I have had Facebook graph search put on my profile. It keeps offering to give me a tour of its functionality but I just haven’t had time to take it yet. I didn’t play around with it in detail yet. I did a few small searches and wasn’t very impressed. The local restaurant selection seemed pretty sad compared to what I know is around my area.

    • I think links do make stories more engaging for the reader. If a story interests a reader enough to click on it or scroll through, additional links probably keep that reader engaged longer. I know that’s the case with me. More so than with pullout quotes. Although a compelling image also peaks my interest.

      I think Facebook graph search has a way to go as far as results go. And businesses need to adjust. Once businesses focus more on “likes” and “check ins” to engage fans, the results will improve. I know my organization met today to discuss graph search and how we can capitalize on it.

  3. I’m an intimate tablet user. I don’t own a tablet, when when using one I’m constantly adjusting the view. I like to zoom and zoom out to look at images and text. I’m also really picky about the texting staying in the center of the screen. Since I don’t use tablets often I pay a lot of attention to how I use it when I’m engaging with it. I LOVE to use it vertically. I like the keypad better when it’s vertical and I feel like I have to swipe the screen less. I turn it horizontally only for watching videos.

    I’m really a headline reader, and I rarely click the link to enter the story. But, if I do click I’ll usually finish the article.

    The Graph Search is new to me, and I haven’t added it to my account yet. I’m so tired of Facebook updating its website, so I usually stick to the mobile app.

    • Blythe, very interesting perspective on your tablet use. Since you are attracted to headlines, do you like the “carousel” view the best?

      I’m with you on the Facebook mobile app. It’s a lot easier to navigate and see updates, which is the main reason I use Facebook.

  4. Knowing what your customers is seeing is all what it is about. It always amazes me at the technology we have that enables companies to get so much information regarding their consumers in an effort to maximize that “connection” and reach out to them better, quicker, and more efficiently.

    I am definitely an “intimate” reader. I have to focus and make contact or I will lose focus and go read something else OR even worse focus on something completely different. I have ADD and I would have a hard time doing even this post if it werent for my meds. It is extremely easy for me to lose my train of thought or start doing something else, so it is important that I continue being an intimate reader especially on notebooks and tablets.

    As far as jumping from story to story goes, I typically do not. What I like to do, regardless of what type of website/layout it is, –I typically find myself scrolling down the entire first page of the site and skim all of the synopsis of information available and only after doing this will I click on something-and I usually click on either the text that seemed the most outrageous or the image that stirred up the biggest emotion. If the first things I click on doesnt entertainment or give me information I feel is necessary, then I will click to something else without finishing the first one.

    I have never thought about the way I hold my tablet. I usually prefer to hold it horizontally, unless something I am viewing would be better if I viewed it vertically. I mostly view news stories and tweets on twitter.

    Do you think the likes, interests, and check-ins are good ways to do the searches on Facebook? I didn’t think that was enough info to base off of, but I guess it works. I just think it could be a little skewed, especially when it came down to ranking small businesses and companies. The “likes” may not be an accurate reflection.

    It didnt really surprise me that people dont focus more on the pictures. I know I don’t because I can get all the information I need explicitly from the text, sometimes pictures dont deliver or relay the complete message that the audience needs to receive. I think the pictures are just there to compliment and provide a visual description. What do you think?

    The Facebook graph has not popped up on my account yet. Is it not on everybody’s yet. I logged on to see if it was there after this weeks readings. I would be ok if it didnt pop up as I don’t use it that much anyway. Is it on yours? If so, have you been able to use it? Do you like it? or shall I say, has it been helpful?

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