Interview with Professor Meeds

For our interview, we spoke to Dr. Meeds, professor of Communications at California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Meeds specializes in research on advertising copy and psycholinguistics. Most of his studies are on the eye-tracking of consumers to gauge the success and impact of advertisements. He conducts his research to measure how copy print persuades consumer behavior. Our primary focus for the interview was to gauge a better understanding of what eye-tracking is and how it can be applied to positively impact consumer behavior. This form of research can be used by communication professionals to craft a more effective advertisement.

What is Eye-tracking?

We first wanted to gain a better understanding about  what eye-tracking is and how Dr. Meed conducts his eye-tracking research. Eye-tracking has been around since cameras were first invented. Eye-tracking is the process of measuring stimuli material from a subject where cameras are focused on an individual. It is extensively used in communication research to measure what grabs the viewer’s attention most. Eye-tracking shows the ‘fixation’ of an individual’s eye on certain texts or images. The longer the eye is fixated on a particular aspect of the advertisement, the more time the subject spends processing a particular aspect of the advertisement. This shows researchers what grabs the subject’s attention and helps determine effective methods of designing advertisements.

How do you conduct your eye tracking research?

Eye-tracking involves fairly simple technology. The procedure includes a camera that is placed right above the screen to track the movement of the subject’s eye and gauges the levels of fixation. The data will track what and how long the viewer’s attention is on a given part of an advertisement. For Dr. Meed’s testing, he uses 30 frames per second to gauge an accurate representation of data that can be replicated. An important facet for any research methodology is the ability to replicate the experiment to ensure that the information can be effectively applied to marketing strategies. 

What do you measure within your Eye-Tracking studies?

The focus is on the fixation and deviation time to measure the attention levels of viewers. Dr. Meed’s studies include student subjects because they are an accurate representation of the consumer population as a whole. Dr. Meed often manipulates the subject to ensure an accurate amount of data is collected. He does so by using images in which an individual must analyze during a given time frame, based on a specific hypothesis. During his testing, Dr. Meed will focus on the saccade or a quick, simultaneous movement of both eyes between two or more phases of fixation in the same direction.

How can eye-tracking research benefit advertisers?

Eye-tracking data can be used to determine how individuals process texts and images. Advertising is often a multimedia layout and eye tracking can be used to decipher the effectiveness of advertisements. Eye tracking, when paired with additional research, can determine the overall effectiveness of an advertisement.

What does the ideal advertisement look like?

The ideal advertisement has many variables, and eye-tracking can be used to determine what most grabs the attention of a viewer. To ensure the message is conveyed to the consumer and reaches its target audience, the designer of the advertisement should keep in mind the process in which a viewer will read their advertisement. The layout of the advertisement should have a hierarchy of information based on the relevance and the message in which the advertisement is hoping to convey. Dr. Meed explained how there should be a focal point that grabs the attention of the viewer first. The advertisement should have a flow in which the consumer’s eyes follow and captivate their attention. Advertisers can direct the gaze of viewers to focus on the most important information.

What medium works best for eye tracking?

With the advancement of technology, eye tracking can be used in research on various mediums. Dr. Meed primarily focuses his studies on print advertising. The advertising industry has a large amount of research given the amount of money and time spent on the advertising process. Eye-tracking can be a beneficial, cost-effective tool for businesses to implement and gauge the effectiveness of their advertisements.

Are these techniques used to acquire/hold the attention of the consumer used around the world, or is this more a product of the US advertising style?

Dr. Meed’s area of expertise is in Middle Eastern culture. We were curious to see if there was a difference in Western versus Middle Eastern approaches to advertising. Dr. Meeds mentioned the Western influence on the global market which has impacted other cultures’ approach to advertising. Western advertising often focuses on the individualistic appeal rather than the collectivistic appeal, as seen in Middle Eastern cultures. Societal values play a role in how advertisements are designed to have the greatest impact on the viewers. Global organizations often adopt the Western media approach because of how influential and standardized it has become.

How has social media impacted advertising strategies?

Lastly, we took a look at how social media has impacted advertising research. Advertisers today are taking a new approach to their marketing strategy so we also explored Dr. Meeds’s knowledge on tracking consumer behavior on social media platforms. Traditional advertisements are his primary area of study but he offered insight into how communication researchers can measure the impact of new advertising strategies. Social media influencers have become a driving force for expanding brand outreach. Consumers value the opinions of influencers and now view them as having a certain degree of expertise in what they are endorsing. As a fairly new strategy to advertising, there is still research to be had for measuring their impact on consumer behavior. 

Overall, the blending of scientific and visual principles is what advertising is all about. Following the interview, we feel that we have a better understanding of this research method. Eye-tracking is an efficient and effective way to measure various studies, specifically with marketing strategies. Advertisers can use eye-tracking to enhance their advertisements and successfully convey their message to their target audience. We want to once again thank Dr. Meed’s for his time and expertise on the subject matter. 


In this photo, a woman is using a michigan called “Apparatus” to measure her eye-tracking. This photo was taken in 1960. 

 A woman using eye-tracking technology in the mid 90’s .

This picture was taken in the 2000’s. It shows how eye-tracking technology has evolved from using big meconsisms to using a small webcam on one’s laptop. 

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