Eye & Click Tracking Technology to Improve Web Design

Prior to reading this week’s material, I was familiar with eye-tracking research as applied to web design and SEO. The whole concept of working hard to get your website in the top Google search results is based on eye-tracking research that shows the majority of users only click on the first few results. So I had already seen the heat maps and related info from the Google Maps whitepaper.  Additionally, several best-practice principles of web design layout are derived from eye-tracking technology, which I’ve read the background information on.

It was interesting to read more in-depth about the research methodology of eye and click tracking. I always wondered how they actually tracked the clicks, and I like how Eye Tracking Technologies: An Introduction detailed a few technologies researchers use to track eyes and clicks. These studies are useful in understanding how to best design for and communicate with our audience. 

One recent application I’ve seen of eye tracking research is studying internet user engagement with advertising. This MediaPost.com article  explores how eye tracking research is being used to find which ads resonate with users, and how a new push in the online advertising industry is paying only for ads that were actually seen by the user, since many are not. 

“Viewability is nice, but viewability just means that an ad is within the viewable area of a screen,” notes Bander, adding: “It doesn’t mean a consumer is actually looking at your ad.”

Since I manage online advertising campaigns, I deal with different technologies we use to monitor the viewability of our ads and listen to vendors presentations that try to highlight how their product offers advanced viewability and interactivity features.

It’s interesting to think of what future applications we can apply eye and click tracking research to, since the research method has been around for 100 years and progressed with all the changes in communication in that time. 

Questions

  1. Can you reference any eye-tracking research that influences your work?
  2. Do you think you read information on a screen the way that research shows most people do? If not, how do you differ?
  3. The term “digital native” refers to someone who is among the first adults who don’t have strong recollection of life before digital. Do you think this population is disadvantaged in any way? (The advantage is clear.)
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Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a great example of how technology can improve our problem-solving methods in ways not possible before. The IBM Jam Report and The Rise of Crowdsourcing illustrate how crowdsourcing allows streamlined collaboration enabling us to solve problems faster and more efficiently.

If you think about it, we often solve problems in this manor anyway. For example, at work, emails are often in a chain, so if there is a problem, everyone can add input and work together to solve the problem faster. A lot of times, you can find what you’re looking for by emailing the right person. Also, it’s similar to people posting to social media to ask peers for advice/thoughts on something.

Wikipedia is an earlier example of Crowdsourcing, however, not as ideal because there were a lot of issues with the integrity, and, consequently trust of the site. This is because “anyone can edit it.” However, I’ve tried to edit it and my changes were deleted within a few minutes. And I didn’t do anything obvious what-so-ever. So I’m curious to know who finds it easy to edit the articles on Wikipedia. I also heard from others that editing content on Wikipedia was very hard. Given, this was more recently, so it was after the big movement to monitor and make sure Wikipedia’s information was trustworthy. It was probably a lot easier to randomly edit Wikipedia content years ago before these security measures were in place. I feel like now it’s pretty trustworthy though. I always cross-check sources, which should be done anyway.

I thought Jam (from IBM Smarter Planet University Jam) was a great example of how social and organizational problems can be solved through crowdsourcing. I also think it’s great for the student participants to get that kind of experience with real-world problem solving and to collaborate on such a progressive project.

While Jam is a more theoretical example, the company InnoCentive is a real example of how effective crowdsourcing can be. Leading companies used InnoCentive to solve scientific problems their in-house researchers could not. It demonstrates how essential diverse collaboration is to innovation.

“InnoCentive’s chief scientific officer [said] more than 30 percent of the problems posted on the site have been cracked, ‘which is 30 percent more than would have been solved using a traditional, in-house approach.'”

I think crowdsourcing programs like Jam and InnoCentive could be useful in a lot of government problem solving, as well. If you think about it, they could replace the government all together if executed properly. It would be an interesting twist on technology and democracy.

Questions

  1. Can you think of more applications of crowdsourcing?
  2. Would you participate in crowdsourcing activities like the ones from the readings?
  3. Do you feel like Wikipedia is trustworthy?

Reputation Management & Environmental Scanning

Online reputation management focus on building customer loyalty for your brand or company. The MITSloan article on stresses that rather than baseline marketing, reputation management is corporate defense. The goal is to create and nurture a following of brand ambassadors. This article then advises brands use a 4-step strategy to guide their rep management initiatives. The first step is to identify a goal. From there, decide which areas of the business to focus on to achieve those goals. The end goal is building a great reputation with its customers and clients to motivate them to remain loyal to your brand. I found this article very helpful, especially for people who don’t understand rep management through social media very well.

The idea of rep management is to aggregate and nurture this following consistently, so that in times of crisis or negative media, social or otherwise, a brand can address the issues to this audience easier and because a lot of times, they will come to a brand’s defense… or, when things are good, they will promote the brand.

The AdWeek article Data Points: Social Faux Pas provides a great visual snapshot of how consumers interact with brands online and for what reasons. It also shows that younger people (18 -34 years old) turn to social media more than people ages 47-65. People usually interact with a brand’s social media to share experiences, good and bad, and to share or seek more information. This provides brands the opportunity to interact positively with it’s followers and build relationships.

Another key component to online rep management is environmental scanning. It helps a brand’s social media team work more efficiently and thoroughly by scanning the online environment for keywords relevant to your brand. One example of this is Twitter’s TweetDeck, but there are more in-depth scanning tools, like TARGUSinfo, mentioned in PR Newswire’s Amplifying Your Social Echo. This article also gives a lot of strategic advice on handling different types of situations and practices to implement to most effectively manage a brands online rep.

Another feature of online rep management is that every online interaction can be measured through social analytics. This gives brands the ability to analyze interactions in-depth and gain insights to guide future efforts. The ability to directly correlate ROI with online rep management is not always easy, but experts believe this will be possible in the future.

Questions:

  1. Do you feel your company is fully equipped to deal with negative social media responses? Why or why not?
  2. Have you experienced interaction with a brand/company over social media? How did it go?
  3. Are there any companies that you think have exemplary social media practices, particularly in the online reputation management area? If so, which ones and why?