Gazing Into the Future: How Eye Tracking is Changing the Way We Create and Consume Content on Social Media and Streaming Platforms

With the dawn of eye-tracking technology, capturing users’ attention has taken a revolutionary turn. From shaping the UX of streaming platforms to redefining accessibility through innovative solutions and even influencing the dynamics of online advertising, eye tracking is proving to be a game-changer across diverse landscapes. Ready to unlock its full potential?

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Optimizing User Experience Through Eye-Tracking

Creating interfaces that are easy to use and understand is the key to a success of any digital product. By studying the users’ gaze patterns, UX designers can optimize the placement of elements such as buttons, CTAs, and other features to improve the overall user experience. On streaming and social media platforms, where the competition is enormous, an intuitive interface is just as important as the content they offer. 

The biggest player in the field, Netflix, uses eye-tracking studies when testing new features. For example, they asked eye-tracking test participants to find something new to watch. The main focus of the experiment was on the Content Discovery button. Researchers have found that „People spend 70% of their total browse time on that top row, particularly looking at the images. They rejected 91% of those titles simply by looking at those images for roughly 1 sec. (…) Users keep browsing very quickly unless something might just catch their attention and then they might pause a little longer to watch the video play.”. You can find the outcome of the research in the article by Product Preas on Medium. 

Eye-Tracking Technology as a Game-Changer for Accessibility

Did you know that eye-tracking technology is also an excellent path for people with limited mobility or disabilities to access and interact with online platforms using only their gaze? This includes scrolling through feeds, selecting options, and even writing messages. 

Every few months, Netflix organizes an event where its employees can show their ideas for the new features. In 2018, during Netflix Hack Day, Ben Hands, John Fox, and Steve Henderson presented Eye Nav — a technology that allows users to navigate apps just by moving their eyes. They “used eye tracking to move the pointer around the screen, and measured the time spent on the same area to trigger the equivalent of a tap. We then used a facial gesture (tongue sticking out) to dismiss a screen. We’re hopeful that this kind of technology will become a part of mainstream Accessibility APIs in the future.” If you’re interested in more details, you can watch a short video about the Eye Nav on YouTube. 

The Science Behind Eye-Tracking and Facial Coding in Online Advertising

Advertising in the 21st century is increasingly shifting towards social media platforms. It is more cost-effective than ads in traditional media and has a potentially more extensive reach. However, its downside is growing competition, which is why it’s so important to create an attractive, attention-grabbing, understandable, and encouraging-to-action design for any campaign.  

The role of video in social media is still growing. This includes videos created natively for social platforms, those shot by influencers, and professional advertisements made by creative agencies. However, choosing the perfect design is challenging, so it’s important to rely on proven testing methods instead of subjective opinions.  

How to perform such a test? For example, you can trust eye-tracking and facial coding technologies. Such an experiment was conducted by RealEye. Researchers selected five Heineken video ads and asked 27 participants to watch those videos one by one. After each viewing, participants were asked how they felt about this advertisement.

Their answers were compared with the results of a face coding test. This technology includes eye-tracking but is extended to monitor and analyze facial movements, even the smallest ones that we would not usually pay attention to. Thanks to this, we can notice recipients’ reactions to a given piece of content and make sure which video the audience likes best.   

Of course, the test results are only a suggestion, but the significant part is that only real people (not bots) are involved in this analysis. And it’s real people’s input that marketers should care about the most. Luckily, such an experiment can be carried out at home, using a basic webcam. No hi tech equipment is needed, making the test easier and cheaper to conduct.  

As RealEye researchers highlight, the advantage of their solution is combining insights from eye-tracking, emotion recognition, and declarative surveys in one tool. If you want to learn more about eye-tracking and face coding technology, visit

How Twitch’s Popularity Provides a Testing Ground for In-Game Advertising

Twitch is currently the most popular streaming platform, focusing on gaming and e-sports. Its founders gathered a whole community of gamers and viewers who can interact with each other by real-time video game transmission. Thanks to this solution, the gaming experience is much more immersive and social. 

Because of its popularity, Twitch is a perfect environment for tests and research. In 2022, Brains Sciences published Esports and Visual Attention: Evaluating In-Game Advertising through Eye-Tracking during the Game Viewing Experience. In the paper, you’ll find many intriguing conclusions proven by a series of eye-tracking experiments. 

As researchers wrote in the study: “Results showed that the ads available in the game view (IGAs) are capable altogether to attract 3.49% of the users’ visual attention” or “the animated ad format elicits higher visual attention (1.46%) than the static format (1.12%)”. Those outcomes could be an important tip for all the marketers and advertisers who plan to post their ads on such platforms. 

Bad News Grabs More Attention in the Online World

Can eye tracking help us settle which emotions attract the most attention on social media? Sure! Such an experiment was conducted on 169 students, and researchers checked which comments attracted their attention and which kept it the longest. As we read in the paper, “The comments were artificially developed as reactions to the posts and were expressed in varying emotional tones: neutral, positive, and negative.” 

The goal of the study was to find out if users are more drawn to emotional comments than non-emotional comments. The researchers discovered that people are more attracted to negative comments than to positive ones. Also, students pay more attention to angry comments than fearful comments. In the conclusion, the study found that emotional mentions grab people’s attention and make them process information differently.

Although the study’s findings are quite sad, they confirm one of the main rules that journalists know very well. The worst news gets the most attention.

To Track or not to Track? That is the (Simple) Question

If you explore the world of eye-tracking a little deeper, you’ll realize that our gaze is not just a cursor on a screen but a deep reflection of our digital consciousness. It reflects our digital mindset, guiding us through accessibility options, influencing advertising strategies, and immersing us in the engaging stories of online content. Just to keep it simple, eye-tracking is the future of research, and you should keep that in mind when planning your next study or experiment.

Posted by
Dharmesh Donda

iStaunch is written by Dharmesh Donda, an avid Internet geek, IT professional since 2012. Have been in IT industry for more than a decade, and currently doing management and consulting work have taken a plunge into entrepreneurship.

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