Consumer Engagement

Sticky: The importance of eye tracking technology in digital advertising

 ephraim close upFor twenty years, Ephraim (Jeff) Bander has sat at the intersection of marketing and neurobiology.  As president of Sticky, Jeff helps clients and partners see the true value of digital advertising by measuring not just what is potentially viewable, but what is actually SEEN(tm) by consumers.  Prior to Sticky, Jeff served as Senior Vice President Client Services at NeuroFocus and Vice President at Cox Interactive.


The Makegood: What is the origin of Sticky and who started it?

Sticky was the brilliant idea from the CEO of Tobii Technology, the gold standard in eye tracking hardware, and Mathias Plank, a serial entrepreneur from Sweden. In 2009, the decision was made to create the world’s first biometric online eye tracking solution, which was then called EyeTrackShop. After two years of development, Mathias recruited me from Neurofocus and in March 2011, we launched the US market in New York City. The company immediately saw traction as the world of eye tracking entered a new technological phase. Instead of testing consumers in lab enviornments, eye tracking is now scalable, affordable and fast. It’s possible to test consumers anywhere in the world without traveling, using a regular webcam. In 2012, Procter & Gamble’s Digital Head in Sweden asked if we could tell him if his online ads are seen or not. When we told him yes, he said, “that will tell me what my sticky ads are”. We rebranded to Sticky shortly thereafter.

The Makegood: What does Sticky do?

Sticky helps brands, publishers and agencies solve an age-old marketing question: what do consumers actually see in my communication and do they actually see my message? Using patented eye tracking technology and a consumer’s regular webcam, companies can know now what is seen or not seen, how long an area is seen and how quickly the area was seen. All in a simple automated SAAS platform.

The Makegood: Have you always focused on what ads were being viewed or did you start with a different tool for marketers?

We started conducting market research projects. A/B testing of ads, package and shelf set testing, print ads, video, pre-roll and anything you can put on a computer screen.

The Makegood: Why is viewability so important for marketers? 

Around 50% of all digital ads have no chance of being seen. The ads with the potential to be seen are called viewable ads. Of the ‘viewable’ ads remaining, a large number are never actually seen. Sticky can tell you which ads are seen and for how long.

The Makegood: The IAB has released standards for viewability.  Do you think these guidelines are a sufficient way of measuring advertising ROI?

The IAB has done a terrific job of addressing the issue. Viewability is a good start, but “seen”—and, by extension, SEEN(tm)—is the next level in transparency and accountability.

The Makegood: How do video advertising metrics compare to and work with those of television? 

Digital media is the most measurable media in the world. While Nielsen has boxes in homes to measure tv audiences, the ability to measure actual audiences is much more accurate online. Today, video online is measured by complete video runs. If the 30-second video ran, this is considered good. Sticky helps brands know if the 30-second ad that ran was actually seen and how long. The average 30-second pre-roll is actually seen for 16 seconds. This is based on 30-second spots that ran all 30-seconds. What we know is that people will look at other places on a site while the video plays.

The Makegood: Other than marketers, who uses (or should use) Sticky?

Publishers who need to know the true value of their inventory and how they compare to competitors. We have publishers who have been able raise CPMs for branding spots on their site. Brands want to know their message was actually SEEN, and agencies use Sticky to help brands optimize their digital online campaigns. They will know which placements and publishers did well and who fell short, where.

The Makegood: What are some interesting findings that you have seen through Sticky studies?  How do they compare with the accepted industry “norm”?

The industry norm right now is to guess what people see or ask them. Asking questions is good, but not for biometric responses. Combining biometric eye tracking with survey questions helps everyone know both what is seen and what people say. We see many companies seamlessly integrating our biometric online eye tracking into their online surveys. The experience is seamless to the respondent and results are very fast and very affordable.

  • Ramon

    Plus, the heat maps they make are aesthetically pleasing. They gave us a 94% viewability on our HPTO campaigns that we run through our application stack. We consider the Sticky results as an industry seal of approval.