Focused Attention for analyzing visual attention

Simon Bugge Jensen

June 17, 2019

Grabbing and sustaining attention has long been known to be an essential part of advertising. Crucial to the perception of the ad narrative, you need to ensure that viewers follow the same attentional path of the ad. To have a measure of coherent visual attention, Neurons has recently developed a score called “Focused Attention” (or, FA for short). This score is a quantitative measurement of how much a group agrees on where to look, when watching a moving ad.

About the Focused Attention metric

The actual calculation is rather complex but at the core, it is an inverse expression of how spread out people in a group are, expressed as the area that this spread covers. In other words: the larger the area that a group covers, and the lower the FA score. When a group is scattered around, paying attention to many different things that are wide apart, the score drops. Vice versa, a higher score means higher coherence and agreement on where to look within the screen. Typically, when analyzing the attention of an ad using neuromarketing, a heatmap is generated based on where people are fixated during an ad exposure. However, this doesn’t give you an exact measurement of how uniformly consumers process it. The Focused Attention score will on the other hand give you exactly that.

Put simply, this new score tells you whether consumers agree in where to look, or whether are they all over the place. The measure also serves as a diagnostic tool to give an indication of how well different details of an ad is detected by the viewers. An ad will get an average score for the whole ad but the real strength of the score is the ability to follow the score over time. It is important to note that the Focused Attention score is not "normative" in the sense that a high score is always good. If viewers are supposed to look at a one specific object or area of the screen, a high score is obviously the best result. However, a couple of other examples suggest that a lower FA score is sometimes also OK, even desirable:

  • if the intention is to have people following a specific path across the screen, the score will drop as people process it at different speeds
  • if the purpose is to portray an abundance of choices, then a low FA score suggests that people are indeed scattered all over the scene – you’ve succeeded in creating a visual experience of abundance

So, let’s look at a few examples of how the score works when applied to different ads. Let's first take a look at the Carlsberg ad:

A Carlsberg ad example

Carlsberg ad with Focused Attention score. The top frame shows the eye-tracking bees warm, which represents where the majority of people are looking. Warmer colors suggest that more people are looking. The bottom graph shows how the Focused Attention score behaves from second to second.

Below, you can see a demonstration of the score and how Carlsberg gets it right in terms of driving the attention in the same path even though the score drops throughout the final scene:

Frames from the Carlsberg ads.

An interpretation example: In the beginning of the final scene, Focused Attention is high (green arrow) due to most attention being drawn towards the brand logo. This means the Focused Attention is high. Middle: After starting to process the final scene, Focused Attention experience a huge drop as people processes it in different speeds. Right: However, we can see that people follow the intended path starting with processing the logo, then the tagline and ending with the hashtags.

Focused Attention to the Telia ad.

The next example is an ad for Telia (Danish telecom company) where they present an offer for a PlayStation and a Sony Xperia. This ad serves as a great example of why only looking at the overall score reveals little. Let's look at this ad first:

Focused Attention to the Telia ad. As earlier, the top frame shows the eye-tracking bees warm, which represents where the majority of people are looking. Warmer colors suggest that more people are looking. The bottom graph shows how the Focused Attention score behaves from second to second. Comparing to other ads, the overall Focused Attention for this as is quite close to the average. However, when looking at the score over time, it shows a high score during most of the ad but also some huge drops during the ad.

Frames from the Telia ad.

Focused attention to the Telia ad. The ad starts out with a centered text explaining the offer from the brand. Middle: As you can see from the graph, the Focused Attention is very high as moving text is an attention grabber and there is nothing else to distract the attention. Right: Suddenly, the ad changes dynamics from a moving text to present the actual offer. Here, the offer is visually presented with a lot of information and the Focused Attention drops massively.

It needs to be said that when diagnosing the attention of the ad, only looking at the Focused Attention score does not reveal the full picture whether any important details are missed by the viewers due to having too much information visible simultaneously. To analyze this in the Telia ad, it is important to first determine all relevant AOIs (areas of interest) which are marked with grey boxes. Then looking at the scores for Percentage Seen and Relative Time Spent for these AOIs will show how much attention is devoted to these specific details.

Neuro Ad Test

Focused Attention is only one of the different scores that is calculated when running a Neuro Ad Test using Neuron Inc’s standard setup. Besides the Focused Attention Score, the ad test also includes a score for the level of cognitive processing (Transmission Power), an emotional motivation score (Persuasion Power) and a memory score (Locking Power).

Focused Attention for analyzing visual attention

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