3M has launched the fourth generation of its Visual Attention Service (VAS), which introduces video capabilities and sequencing features to the scanning tool that is viewed by marketers as a more convenient and affordable alternative to eye tracking. Along with the release of VAS 4.0, 3M also launched an iPhone app for the Visual Attention Service (VAS) that allows users to snap a photo, run a scan and share results in seconds by assessing images they capture with a smart phone. It will soon release an Android An open platform for cellphones from the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Based on Linux, Android includes a library of Java classes for building mobile applications.
Used to increase the probability that viewers will notice the most desired elements of a design or physical location, 3M VAS enhances the visual impact of professional design across advertising, marketing, and all forms of digital and print media. Built upon decades of research on how consumers react to various visuals, 3M VAS marries deep vision science with cutting edge technology.
Previously offered only for still images, 3M VAS can now analyze video to illustrate how people are most likely to visually interact with any scene or setting, and identify where the average human eye will focus at any given moment. The software analyzes images, graphical and text elements of digital and print content through a series of algorithms that process important visual cues, such as colors, edges, faces, shapes and contrast.
"The ability to analyze video exponentially increases the applications for VAS, and really opens up a whole new world of possibilities," said Bill Smyth, business manager, 3M Digital Out of Home. "From infomercials to product placement in films, to point-of-sale displays and in-store signage, VAS with video offers marketers a level of accessibility to deep consumer insights that simply didn't exist before."
3M is currently offering VAS video analysis as a consulting service. Customers will receive a prescriptive heatmap that travels on top of the video, with a traveling fixation indicator layered on top of the heatmap.
"We see VAS with video as particularly valuable to those looking to predict consumers' visual journey in retail environments, and how that journey plays into the path to purchase," said Kelly Canavan, marketing manager, 3M Commercial Graphics. "VAS with video also excels in helping marketers and advertisers to stand out and meet their visual goals in the crowded universe of rich media and online video."
Version 4.0 also features significant upgrades to VAS still image analysis, including a valuable sequencing feature that demonstrates not only where the human eye is most likely to pay attention in the first few seconds of viewing an image, but the sequence of those fixation points as well. Also new are customized setting options for direct mail/email and in-store contexts, which automatically take into account how human vision interacts with different viewing circumstances.
The VAS service is available globally, and can be accessed at www.3M.com/VAS. Since the 2010 launches of versions 1.0 and 2.0, and the June 2011 launch of VAS 3.0, several thousand customers have already experienced the benefits of VAS.