Eye Tracking Study: Users Largely Blind To Real-Time Results In Search

Online marketing firm OneUpWeb recently conducted an eye-tracking study about the impact of integrating real-time data into search results. The study involved 44 people divided into two groups: “consumers” and “information foragers.” The difference between the groups involved the tasks they were given:

The first group was told to search for a product they might buy, and were called the “consumer” group. The second group was told to simply look for information on a product, and were called the “forager” group.

The study, conducted last month, sought to answer the following questions:

  1. Does the average internet user recognize and understand real-time results?
  2. Are consumers finding and clicking on real-time results?
  3. And simply, the bird’s eye view: what are the consumers saying about real-time results?

At the highest level the results showed the following:

  • 73% had never heard of real-time results before participating this study
  • 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

Here’s the age distribution of the 44 participants:

Picture 19

Below are screens showing the differences in the eye movements of the two groups. Remember the only difference between the two groups was nature of the task assigned. The “real time results” are called out in a box at the bottom in this set of examples:

Picture 20

Picture 21

The study, which contains much more discussion than my short summary above, seems to assert that real-time results so far have limited impact or appeal. While there’s enormous hype and coverage among tech-insiders about “real time search,” the public doesn’t really understand (or perhaps care) what the fuss is all about.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Web Search | Search Engines: Real Time Search | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Maureen

    If anyone would like to download the study, you can do that here: http://www.oneupweb.com/landing/10_realtime_results_eyetracking/

  • http://www.i-level.com eamonc

    Interesting, but are the results not really representative if it is tracking users focusing on real-time results which are at the bottom of the page? Many of the trending and popular real-time results (for example for ‘climate change’) are in position 2,3,4 of Google and would therefore receive much more attention and higher CTR’s.

  • Maureen

    Hi eamonc,

    This is actually just one screen shot from the study. Overall, Oneupweb did track all of the real-time results, including those in position 2, 3, and 4 of Google.

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