Reflection and progress: from the present and into the future.

The following article, written by SAMRA following its 33rd annual conference themed ‘Reflection and progress: from the present and into the future’, emphasises the importance of eye-tracking in determining print advert effectiveness.

In most developing countries, including South Africa, print media is still prevalent – and relevant – but in South Africa, print advertising is seldom evaluated in terms of its effectiveness.

So said researcher Marilu Smit at the recent annual conference of the Southern African Marketing Research Association (SAMRA) in Johannesburg.

Smit took silver for the overall best paper for her engaging presentation titled: ‘Optimising ROI on Print – The Contribution of Eye-tracking now and into the future’. She also received the award for the best first-time speaker.

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Optimising print
She stressed that, in terms of advertising budget, print has much to offer and optimising it should be considered a priority, especially in times of austerity, and made a compelling case for the value of eye-tracking as a cost-effective way in determining the effectiveness of print advertising.

Eye-tracking – the what and how

Eye-tracking studies track eye movements and behaviour when exposed to a stimulus. Among other things, eye-tracking measures include the time taken before a respondent fixates on an element for the first time, duration of the first fixation on an element, total number of fixations per element, average fixation duration, total fixation duration, the number of respondents who fixated on an image or area of interest on a visual stimulus and repeat viewing, she explained.

Double impact

“Not only can eye-tracking prove to be cost-effective in terms of lower sample sizes and length of interviews, it can also add in terms of actionable insights on how to improve print adverts,” Smit pointed out.

Print and layout improved

She said both international and local case studies have shown the benefits of eye-tracking to improve print advertising layout and effectiveness.

“These have shown how eye-tracking can provide insights on improving communication of key messages, branding, impact and key creative elements that were found in the highest performing print adverts.
Attention matters
Measuring attention tells researchers what consumers will see and therefore have the opportunity to remember. If consumers remember an ad campaign in a branded way, it assists to increase the overall brand or product awareness, improving the return on print advertising investment.”

In a South African eye-tracking study conducted for a respected international brand, three print adverts for a relatively new product were tested to determine which of the three adverts would be most effective for a new campaign. The eye-tracking results clearly indicated that the recommended advert was the most engaging of the three and had the largest spread of attention throughout all elements of the advert.

Across-the-board
The increasing trend towards digital publishing is unlikely to have any impact on the value and importance of eye-tracking, Smit reckons.

“Our media consumption patterns may change, but how the human eyes and brain function together is unlikely to change in the near future. Viewing behaviour can give researchers valuable insights into the ever more complex media consumption patterns and behaviours arising as technology advances and the media landscape changes even further. Even if print moves online consumers will still have to see the advertising to have an opportunity to remember it,” she concluded.

*See Adcom’s article on Primedia Instore’s use of Tobii Eye Tracking equipment on page 42 of our May 2012 issue. The digimag can be read online at www.adcom.co.za.

SAMRA Award Winners

SAMRA Best Overall Paper – Gold

SAMRA Best Overall Paper – Silver

  • Kyle Findlay & Paul Oosterveld, Mapping the South African Political Twittersphere
  • Marilu Smit, Optimising Advertising ROI on Print – The Contribution of Eye Tracking Now and Into the Future

SAMRA Best Overall Paper – Bronze

  • Kambe Mwaba, Making the Small Screen Part of the Big Picture: Understanding how South African Internet and Mobile Phone Users Interact with Brands Online

SAMRA Best First Time Speaker

  • Marilu Smit, Optimising Advertising ROI on Print – The Contribution of Eye Tracking Now and Into the Future

SAMRA People’s Choice

  • Zinzile Ntoyiwa, Stokvels – A Hidden Economy: Unpacking the Potential of South African Traditional Saving Schemes

SAMRA Bright Young Minds

  • Kambe Mwaba, Making the Small Screen Part of the Big Picture: Understanding how South African Internet and Mobile Phone Users Interact with Brands Online