Oculid and Affectiva: the remarkable insights brought by attention and emotion measurement

Understand how you can use Eye tracking and Emotion AI to comprehend the efficacy of digital assets made to inspire and stir emotions.

Oculid is an eye tracking platform that allows researchers worldwide to run their tests using only participants' smartphones. Through the selfie camera, we show you what caught your customers' attention, unlocking powerful insights into multiple types of digital content.

Our team at Oculid partnered with the Media Analytics team at Affectiva to combine our eye tracking and Affectiva’s Emotion AI technologies on a pilot project. Now it's time to show which insights resulted from merging our technologies.


Using two Christmas Ads pulled from TikTok, a study was run through our mobile app, which is conveniently suitable for both Apple and Android systems. The participants - our friends and family - agreed to have their face videos, gaze position and screen recordings collected for the project.


The first video used in the research was "The Beginner," released at the end of 2022 by John Lewis, a UK department store, to raise awareness about the kids in the foster care system. Throughout the video, the main character repeatedly tries to learn how to skateboard, with no previous explanation of why. By the end of the video, the audience realizes he is preparing himself to foster a girl interested in the sport.

Using Affectiva’s Emotion AI technology to measure Smile and Sentimentality, we discovered that people tended to smile whenever a skateboard situation went wrong or when the main character was recognized for his achievements. In the Emotion AI traces below, we can see that smiles were increasingly present by the end of the video when people finally understood the story's background.

Graph of sentiment measuring from a TikTok ad

To wrap up the story and deliver the entire message, the video shows the main character leaving the scene slowly while displaying text regarding the UK foster care system. The combination of brow furrow and smilefacial classifiers and eye tracking delivered insights into how the video gathered the audience's attention and kept it through the transition between the characters leaving the scene and the text message becoming more apparent (below).

Graph of smile and brow furrow on a TikTok ad

The second video is an announcement from the Aldi supermarket chain called "Kevin the carrot: Home Alone." Since 2016the company has launched an annual campaign for the holiday season over stories starred by the mascot "Kevin the carrot." In 2022, his family left him alone during Christmas and went on a Paris trip, just like in the legendary holiday movie we all know and love.

The ad was successful in many aspects: the whole piece was able to generate emotional engagement, from the cartoon elements to the association with such a popular movie. Faces are typically something that calls attention, but the test showed that... carrot faces also work!

Graph of face reactions detected on the audience of a TikTok ad

One of the highlights of the video happens when Kevin is expected to land as the snowman's nose but ends up in another place. This scene was perceived as highly attention-capturing, and it also provoked some mixed primarily positive reactions, from smiles to smirks (asymmetrical smiles) and Mouth Open (an indicator of surprise).

Heatmap over a screenshot of the last screen of an Aldi Ad

Although the content was highly engaging, Aldi's ad might have lost an opportunity to reinforce its message, as the last part of the video stimulates people to look at multiple moving cues, from the carrot and Santa Claus to the brand messaging, displayed simultaneously with five static cues: text, ornament, and Aldi's, Neighbourly's and TikTok's logos. As the image demonstrates, this leads to a significant dispersion of visual attention.


The two videos were well-made regarding visually guiding the participants and developing emotionally engaging stories. Usually, it's advised to assume that people follow faces on the screen, but we found that carrot faces are also very compelling!

Both videos differentiate in their approach to the final message. Using our eye tracking and Affectiva's emotion AI technologies, we saw that the John Lewis ad had a more straightforward way of making its message memorable and easily assimilated.

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