Research: Eye gaze impacts metrics of social media ads

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VidMob, the platform for Intelligent Creative, has released research that shows how the direction of model’s eye gaze in the first few seconds of a video ad can significantly impact performance metrics, but can differ greatly based on context.

VidMob applied proprietary AI technology to detect the specific direction of eye gaze and its relationship to ad engagement. The findings are based on an analysis of 1.1 million digital ads that ran on Facebook, Snapchat and Google between January 2018 – December 2020, and show that variation in eye gaze can influence click through rates, view rates and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

“The data show how audiences respond differently to particular creative elements, and that a brand must implement a creative analytics strategy to understand how these elements can be used to positively influence their campaign outcomes,” said Beth Gostanian, VP of Product at VidMob. “ In order to deliver the highest return on their ad spend, Brands and advertisers need to tap into their own creative data to improve the effectiveness of their ads.”


Highlights of the research include:

  • Direct gazes were associated with higher click rates when brands were looking to purposefully engage viewers in the dialogue, like educational and gaming content

  • Indirect gazes were seen to lift click and view rates for sports, lifestyle, and medical content

  • Pairing direct gazes with positive facial expressions had a beneficial impact on app install campaign performance.

A global mobile gaming brand included in this study found that featuring in-game characters with direct eye gaze in the opening frame of a video ad on Facebook yielded a 10 per cent decline in cost per install (CPI). If those same characters looked straight to camera and had happy facial expressions, the CPI decreased 35 per ent further, outperforming their historical campaign average by $6 (€5.32).

Similarly, a large financial services brand discovered that when talent looked directly at the camera, it increased 3-second view rates for educational content by a staggering 59 per cent. Meanwhile, indirect gazes, associated with casual lifestyle imagery, as opposed to interview-style narratives, were associated with a 44 per cent lift in click through rates for ads about specific products or services such as investment funds, credit cards, and loans.

“The impact of eye contact on advertising performance is just one example of the impact creative has on overall advertising performance,” added Gostanian. “Advertising and creative teams can and should use an intelligent creative process to analyse and understand the creative elements that will drive performance, improve the ad experience and yield better business results.”


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