EyesOn Program Testing



For Pre-testing Programs and Commercials

Will they really watch it?

For TV and home videos, the bottom line is not if captive audiences say they like them, but whether non-captive audiences  actually watch them.   EyesOn (sm)  pre-testing gives you a way to find out - and to discover just what parts of your material will draw, and what parts will turn them away.

A behavioral measure

The core of EyesOn (sm) testing is behavioral observation: when do people look at the program and when do they look away?   Audience members view the  test program in a standardized room layout, with a controlled level of distraction in the form of an ever-changing series of still pictures.   They are free to look at whatever they want to: the program or the pictures.   Their faces are videotaped by a camera mounted between the screens.



By recording where they direct their gaze, you can find what parts of the program hold their attention and which parts do not.  Sometimes they look at the test program

(Test Program side) (Distracter side)


Sometimes they don't


At home, TV is watched under distracting conditions.  It needs to hold kids interest against these distractions.  In the test room, the second TV with its kid-appealing pictures provides a controlled distraction to make the viewing experience psychologically more comparable to watching programs in the real world. 

EyesOn Flow Chart -- Sample


We also measure opinions

In an interview after the viewing session the children are asked what they remember, what they liked and didn't like, how they perceived key characters, and whether they would watch the show if it played on air.

Attention-getting really matters

A research study about attention and opinion (published in the Journal of Advertising Research)  pointed clearly to the fact that attention getting and opinion formation are both essential to winning repeat viewers of TV series.  

Children watched the premier episodes of new Saturday Morning kids' shows.   Their attentiveness was measured by videotaping them while they watched, using EyesOn(sm) methodology, and their opinions were measured by asking them whether they wanted to watch the show again the following week.  One week later, when the second episode of the show was aired, the kids were called at their homes and asked, if they were watching TV and if so, what show were they watching.

By themselves, opinions did not predict real-world viewing, and attention levels predicted it rather weakly.

But it turned out that if kids had paid close attention to episode #1, and had said they would watch it again, they did so.  If they paid close attention and then said they wouldn't watch it again, they didn't.   But if they hadn't paid close attention, it didn't matter whether they had said they would watch it or not.   They had the same low level rates of viewing either way - as if they had just stumbled randomly into the program. 

Basically, if you have an attention-getting show, kids' opinions are very predictive.  If you don't have an attention-getting show, it doesn't matter what they have to say.  Bottom line: you need to look at both behavior and opinion if you are going to know how kids will react.


Design Variations

Preschooler Version

Viewing is done from a couch in a living-room-like setting with a parent nearby.     The distracter pictures come from TV and movies popular with preschoolers.  The interview is tailored to the child's developmental level.   The parent is also asked about his/her reactions to the commercial.  EyesOn (sm) methodology evolved from the distracter method used by Children's Television Workshop to test 3-5 year olds' reactions to program material. We have used it successfully for PBS with children as young as one and two years old.

TV Commercial Testing.

The test commercial is embedded within a cartoon program.  It plays twice (in two different commercial breaks).  A post-exposure interview with a comprehensive battery of communications and product-perception questions.  There are extensive norms for 6 to 12 year old children, and the system has been extensively validated against measures of in-market behavior.  For more information, follow the link to the KidWatch page

Teen/Adult Versions

Sessions can last longer.  The distracter material is drawn from TV and videos popular with the target age range.  The post-viewing questionnaire can also last longer, and probe issues in greater depth.

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