3 Things We've Learned from Conducting an Eye Tracking Study

eye tracking study heat map

Viewability is one of the most important metrics in mobile advertising, but the unfortunate truth is that there's only so much this KPI can tell us. After all, if an ad appears smack dab in the middle of the page, but the user never actually looks at it, the impression winds up being just as useless as one that never appeared on-screen.

In order to find out where people are really turning their attention on the mobile web, we decided to conduct an eye-tracking study. In this experiment, we measured how more than 1,000 consumers interacted with editorial and advertising content on several mobile web pages, using eye-tracking technology to tell us where their eyesight was focused at any given moment.

Needless to say, the results were fascinating. Here are three findings that stood out from our study.


The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines an ad as viewable if 50% of the ad's pixels are visible in the browser window for a continuous one second. What we found is that even if an ad is 95% viewable, viewability scores are not a predictor of whether the user will actually look at an impression. In fact, there was no correlation between an impression's viewability rate and the likelihood that it would be viewed.


The web is a visual medium, and our study indicates that the mobile web is no different. Though images made up 6-8% of the page's overall real estate, they commanded 15-23% of our participants' attention time. In addition, images were easily the most viewed content on the page. The main editorial image on each page was viewed by 95% of all subjects.


GumGum's In-Image ad units uses image recognition technology to deliver targeted placements as contextual overlays on top of related editorial images. Though the format is unintrusive, its placement in an eye-catching location causes consumers to spend more time looking at it than a standard display unit.

In our test, we found that In-Image ads were “viewed” twice as much as standard display ads, and that these units captured more than three times as much attention as their standard standard display peers.

Because our participants spent so much time looking at In-Image ads, they were also more likely to remember the brand that sponsored them. Those who had seen In-Image ads correctly recalled the brand up to 50% more often than those who saw standard display units. These results proved a positive correlation between attention time and brand recall.

For marketers, these insights provide a roadmap for reaching consumers on the mobile web. Rather than worrying too much about viewability, brands and agencies can generate superior results by honing in on attention-grabbing formats.

Click here if you're interested in learning more about GumGum's In-Image ad units.

You might also like

Click this icon to scroll back to the top of the page