How Eye-Tracking Technology can Transform Online Surveys

Eye-tracking technology is a recent tech gift for online marketing and advertising. It allows businesses to evaluate the intimate desires of test subjects—by using a combination of an eye-tracker device (usually digital video camera) to capture eye motion or point of gaze, and software to record and analyze the digital images from the device.

In essence and from a selling standpoint, eye-tracking software deciphers a potential customer’s preferences in regard to webpage layout, brand placement, or even the product itself. Reading an individual’s eyes may not be as essential (or romantic) as in film when one thinks of gun fights in Westerns, card games with tuxedo-wearing spies, or epic love affairs; but it can make a sizeable impact in market research.

In a way, eye-tracking technology is a form of online survey, albeit in a different language, able to measure the intimate tastes of respondents.  In fact, online surveys and eye-tracking technology could be a marriage made in marketing heaven, as their union truly focuses on a key issue in any manner of research sampling: honesty.

The idea of measuring an individual’s honesty while responding through eye movement has been around for a while (beyond movies), although in recent times it has been criticized by scientific examination. However, leading research indicates that the eyes are indeed the windows to the soul (or at least windows to the mind’s most sincere intentions). A piece in Psychology Today detailed a recent study at the University of Buffalo’s Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors. The article stated:

In their study of 40 videotaped conversations, an automated system analyzing eye movements correctly identified whether subjects were lying or telling the truth 82.5 percent of the time. That’s a better accuracy rate than expert human interrogators typically achieve in lie-detection judgment experiments. (Experienced interrogators average closer to 65 percent.)

The study utilized an automated system that focused solely on eye movement, and employed a statistical method to model how people moved their eyes in two separate situations: during regular conversation, and while fielding a question designed to stimulate a lie.

Without getting too technical, determining a person’s honesty through eye movement is viable, and (also again) technology can now and readily track eye movement.

So why not blend eye-tracking technology with online surveys to maximize honest responses?

After all, honesty from online panels is an issue that deeply concerns all companies. Beyond ensuring panels are properly nurtured and engaged beforehand, marketing researchers utilize different methods to negate dishonesty/laziness during online surveys, such as:

Time tracking
Pattern reading
Trick/repetitive questions

These safeguards are for the most part efficient, but adding eye-tracking technology could further improve online surveys by gaging a respondent’s sincerity before and during the survey.

The costs might seem staggering at the moment, from a developer’s standpoint. However, the idea of eye-tracking technology on smartphone screens and other mobile technology was once deemed too pricey. This is no longer the case, with companies already offering eye-tracking technology for home devices at under $100. Samsung, as an example in the marketplace, has incorporated eye-tracking technology for a variety of its mobile products.

Humans are not perfect, and there is no such notion as a perfect technique to mining for the most distilled desires of an individual—unless it is James Bond studying the eyes of the villain across the casino table. Yet eye-tracking technology is an intriguing option for better online surveys, as it already has improved both consumer markets and market research, for your eyes only.


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