P&G Expanding Its In-Store Eye-Tracking Trial To Europe

Having trialed eye-tracking technology in various U.S. retail locations, consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble is preparing to expand the trial to the U.K., according to a report in The Grocer. The software uses a color-coded overview of the POS digital signage screen to track eye movements to determine which icons get the most attention, the story said, as well as which are visually processed faster than others and the path a shopper's eyes follow.

P&G started using the software, called SellCheck, in the U.S. late in 2012.

Eye-tracking can be done in various ways. The least (visibly) intrusive approach is to simply establish monitors near retail digital ad displays and track shopper eye movement and how long the eye stays focused on a specific point. The tracked shoppers are presumably unaware of the eye-tracking. At the other extreme, volunteers can be gathered and wired, to both check for eye movement and brain activity. (No cracks, please, that brain activity tracking is unnecessary with early-morning Black Friday crowds.)

P&G has apparently been using multiple eye-tracking approaches, opting for both the in-store monitoring as well as the more aggressive volunteer-approach. AdWeek, for example, reported that P&G's Nordic division has been slashing its ad budgets "due to cancelling buys for ads that aren't seen"—literally. For that testing, it used a vendor called Sticky, formerly EyeTrackShop.

Eye-tracking for digital signage is certainly interesting, with a strong ROI for ad buyers. But the real payoff for retailers is using eye-tracking in-aisle and examining how trackers interact with actual products. A high percentage of shoppers pay little attention to store ads, but all of them are looking through the aisle for products. Is there a product that shoppers keep looking at and opting to not buy? Can eye movement give clues as to the reason? Is the eye contact regularly broken when shoppers' eyes land on the pricetag? Or maybe on the ingredient list? Is the eye long, but broken the instant the product is picked up, suggesting that the deal-killer might involve the product's weight or texture.

The trick is in keeping these systems as invisible as possible. Nothing is more revealing than the prolonged tracking of a customer's eye activity during a shopping trip—and nothing will feel as creepy as a shopper figuring out that you're doing it.

For more:
- See this AdWeek story
- See this The Grocer story

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