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Eyetracking Study – are we looking at Real Time Search results?

by Scott Hoffman on March 5, 2010

The inclusion of Real Time content (from Twitter and Facebook) in the search results of Google (GOOG), Bing (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO), all of whom have jumped into integrating real-time data into search results have been talked about with great fanfare. I posted about what the impact of the inclusion of Real Time search will mean to many marketers and advertisers. The marketing firm OneUpWeb just concluded an interesting “eye-tracking” survey/study .pdf, that explores the effectiveness of the recent efforts.

The study entitled, “Search Gone Wild” looks at how a small group of users–split up into to groups called “consumers” and “foragers”–reacted to the Google real-time search results. Here is just one of the heat-maps included in the study:

As it turned out, the results did not live up to the hype around putting real-time search in engines:

  • The consumer group averaged 9 seconds to the first fixation on real-time results, where as the information foragers took a full 14 seconds.
  • The consumer group had 10% fewer clicks on the real-time results than the information foragers.
  • In-attentional blindness is a phenomenon found to afflict the task-drive consumers—they don’t see what they aren’t looking for.
  • 25% of the participants were familiar with the real-time component prior to the study.
  • 55% of the participants could easily find the real-time results.
  • Only a quarter of the consumers cared for the real-time results compared to 47% of the information foragers.
  • The majority of the participants surveyed were indifferent to the real-time results.

To get the full report/pdf please click here.

You can also look at a study that I published last week that illustrated the phenomenon called banner blindness.

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