Digital West

GazeHawk Brings Eye-Tracking Technology to the iPad

Heatmaps Could Help Tablet Publishers and Advertisers

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Joe Gershenson, Gazehawk co-founder
Joe Gershenson, Gazehawk co-founder
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GazeHawk made our "10 Startups to Watch" list on Monday because of its innovative, low-cost method of tracking web surfers' eye movements with computers' webcams, generating "heatmaps" to tell web publishers where visitors looked -- and which ads they saw.

Today at Ad Age 's Digital West Conference, Gazehawk is introducing the next iteration of its product: eye-tracking for mobile devices including tablets.

Eye-tracking on standard computers could help websites and advertisers complement what they already know about page views and click-through rates with a real picture of readers' attention as they look around at ads, headlines, game elements, photos, links and the like. Analyzing that kind of information, which can't be gleaned from simply looking at clicks or impressions, could fuel improvements to a site or help justify an advertiser's spending.

But the new capabilities mean publishers and developers can now watch where app users look as well, with the same goals in mind.

That might appeal to big magazine publishers like Conde Nast, Time Inc. and Hearst, which have been hard at work creating tablet versions of their popular magazines, developing the necessary new models for subscriptions, design, content and of course, advertising.

At Ad Age 's inaugural Media Evolved Conference last November, Time Inc. and Universal McCann presented the results of a joint study comparing neurometric feedback (read: brainwaves) from people consuming content on tablet devices to feedback from people reading traditional media. GazeHawk's new technology might provide a more efficient route to similar insights.

Conde Nast, for its part, has promised to start giving advertisers new metrics on iPad edition consumption -- measures such as the number of times an ad in a digital edition was displayed and the average time that digital readers lingered on a page with a specific ad. Eye-tracking could reveal exactly which parts of which ads catch the reader's eye, and for how long.

GazeHawk has its own testers, but publishers, developers and agencies can also recruit their own panels. Millward Brown and IPG Labs have already worked with GazeHawk, as have Mozilla and Bell Canada's Sympatico.ca.

The software is also 100% opt-in; it needs to be calibrated with each user's eye movements, so no video or recording can take place accidentally or without consent.