LONDON: Travellers on the London Underground are generally positive about seeing ads in that environment with attention levels high even at busy times, research has found.

In a paper presented at the recent ESOMAR Congress, Love and trust underground: How to measure engagement with OOH advertising 58 metres below ground, Nicola Barrett, head of research at Exterion Media, and Robert Ellis, director at COG Research, outlined a research project that sought to understand how the immersive environment of underground travel influences how people engage with advertising.

This involved the use of both traditional survey methods and new technology such as eye tracking glasses and skin conductance monitors.

Previously all the data on visibility and opportunity to see for each part of the Underground estate had been based on common sense, passenger footfall data and assumptions, the authors noted, but the use of advanced technology allowed them to report at a much greater level of detail.

By combining skin conductance and eye tracking data, they were able to not only assess when participants were looking at ads but also their level of engagement and whether their attention was focused or distracted depending on what stage they were at in their journey – on an escalator, in a corridor, on a platform or in a carriage.

“Understanding journeys in this way revealed that 58% of people who regularly read or use their phone while travelling also regularly look at advertising on the Tube,” they reported.

“And, of those using a mobile device, a third are using their device to take notes about information they see within the London Underground (e.g. on ads).”

And in certain specific contexts, such as using an escalator – when travellers are less likely to be staring at their phone or reading – the research found that movement from digital panels gave 40% greater attention compared with classic panels.

A quantitative survey also revealed that ads on London Underground and buses are among those that people are most positive about – only 7% of respondents were negative compared to 34% for television and 50% for social media for example.

Overall, Barrett and Ellis, added, the time during which travellers were highly engaged with London Underground ads was on a par with TV and significantly ahead of online video.

Sourced from ESOMAR