Unlike other media, it is not sufficient to say that proximity to the advertising display equates to exposure to it. A poster frame may be within the line of vision, and a respondent may be heading in a favourable direction, yet there may be factors that prevent a frame from being seen. Considerations include the distance between the respondent and the frame, their respective orientations, and so on. The speed of travel will also affect the chance of eye contact. The size of the display is important, as is its movement and illumination.
The aim is to go beyond simply counting those who pass an advertising frame and have an opportunity to see it, to determine who might actually look at a particular display in each given set of circumstances.
Route continues the pioneering work undertaken in the past with Dr. Paul Barber and Birkbeck College, part of the University of London. An ongoing research project examines how people look at the many variations of advertising formats in different situations.
Carefully controlled eye tracking experiments are conducted where subjects view numerous scenes and different frame types. Respondents are asked to play one of three roles - driver, passenger or pedestrian – without foreknowledge that the study concerns advertising, to replicate actual behaviour out of the home. The study enables us to determine where people are likely to rest their gaze whilst they are out of the home.
The experiments produce a series of factors by which the gross audience for a particular frame might be adjusted depending on its specific characteristics. A mathematical rule is derived, which allows such adjustments to be made for any known set of parameters.
By applying this information about how people view the real world, the audience for each frame may be adjusted to account for its likelihood to be seen.
Route has published technical papers on visibility research which can be downloaded here: