Win hearts and minds with science and sentiment!

A large-scale Eye Tracking and Facial Coding study shows how to win on Twitter


About $1 trillion (Deloitte“2016 Holiday Survey”) was spent last year during the holiday season. Not only for consumers but also for advertisers the holiday season is a busy period. Every dollar spent on Tweets, increased sales by $ 6.67 on average (Oracle DLX ROI Studies, 2013-2016). Impactful ads will boost the ROI even 20-100% more. But how do holiday ads that sell look like?

Twitter and EyeSee tried to answer on this question in a large-scale study with 35 ads and more than 1,200 respondents using neuro methods such as eye tracking and facial coding.


Your brand can be what’s happening this holiday season.

The holidays are big on Twitter. There were more than 80 million Tweets about holiday from July 2016 to January 2017, that’s more than three Super Bowls combined! (Crimson Hexagon Holiday Conversation, 2016-2017).

According to Kara Louis, researcher at Twitter, during the holiday period brands capitalize on the “unique discovery mindset” of Twitter users by leveraging “science and sentiment to create a campaign that speaks to the heart while driving attention, recall and purchase consideration on Twitter this holiday season.”


Eye tracking and behavioral methods shows what wins on Twitter

New research from Twitter and EyeSee combined science and sentiment to help brands run the most impactful holiday campaigns. How? We worked with Twitter to recruit 1,200 Twitter monthly users, and leveraged Eye Tracking and Facial Coding technology to measure things like attention rates, stopping power, and a range of different emotions as they viewed holiday ads. The results from these tests offer insights to help you generate longer dwell times and elicit positive emotion, along with increased recall, product awareness, message association, and purchase intent.


#HolidayIsHappening : a guide to creative holiday marketing

Takeaways of the study:

  • Focus on the act of giving presents and less on family related themes: Purchase consideration is 27% higher for gift giving ads than gift receiving or family focused ads
  • Show your brand: Holiday ads with logos drive 133% higher brand recall
  • Show products: Attention and brand connection is +10% higher for product focused

Showing the act of giving will induce purchase behavior – people will remember that they need to buy a present and the act of purchase is more closely associated with buying than receiving a gift or with a family scene.

People can recognize the ads of Coca-Cola based on the red color pattern, or cell phones of Apple and Samsung thanks to the unique design. But most (even billion dollar) brands don’t have these distinct brand assets. It is strongly recommended to show the logo.

Clearly showing the product will increase the attention the ad gets. These ads are on average more clear than non-product focused ads. If a tweet or post is not clear, users will rather skip them than search (mental effort) for the meaning behind the tweet.

In addition to the tips above, ensure that you keep the right balance between heart and mind — deals should not overshadow the holiday spirit, nor can emotive content be effective without information. For example, while 68% of Twitter users will jump on a deal they see for a tech gift, ads are 28% more effective when they emphasize both deals and the spirit of giving.


Methodology: 1,200 respondents, 35 ads, state of the art behavioral methods

eyesee research twitter study

Example of eye tracking (left in mobile frame) combined with facial coding data (bottom right)

Respondents viewed a Twitter feed and their eyes were tracked with their own devices and webcams to determine if the ad attracts attention. Metrics measured were: visibility (how many people see the ad), ad stopping power (how fast do they notice it), and ad attention (how long do they look at it).

Facial expressions were tracked with webcams to determine if the ad evoked emotion. Metrics tracked were percentage of expressive viewers (does the ad evoke emotions) and which emotions were evoked (happy, sad, disgust, surprise, interested, afraid, neutral).

Respondents then filled out a survey to determine if they would take action. Metrics measured were brand recall (did they recall the ad/message) and consideration (likelihood to purchase).

Why behavioral methods such as Eye Tracking and Facial Coding? Studies have shown that they predict effectiveness 20-40% better than regular explicit methods such as surveys. This is because explicit methods tap into the conscious part of the brain while facial coding and eye tracking focus on the subconscious part where most of purchase decisions take place.

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Eye tracking and facial coding

Eye tracking measures what attract attention by tracking people’s eye movement and Facial Coding measures emotions through facial expressions as in the series ‘lie to me’. These methods are more effective in predicting ad impact with surveys. For more info about eye tracking and facial coding click here.


Some eye tracking and facial coding examples

30% more people noticed the brand within 2 seconds in the left advert compared to the right.

EyeSee Research Eye Tracking Exaple

Eye Tracking example

Below you find an example of eye tracking and facial coding. We created a Twitter timeline mockup of Brendan Eich and inserted a Victoria Secret ad. The EyeSee employee showed much more emotion with the Victoria Secret ad than the for the tweet about the study of EyeSee.

EyeSee Research Facial coding example

Click on image to see full video