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Want to boost DOOH engagement? Add haptics [Study]

With digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising now everywhere, advertisers are looking for new ways to connect with customers. Dr Hannah Limerick, User Research and Insights Lead, explains how a published study showed that adding haptic technology to DOOH installations can significantly boost key metrics.

Infographic: DOOH Ultrahaptics study

Hand tracking technology now means consumers can interact with DOOH installations using 3D gestures. However, in other sectors (such as gaming and mobile), 2D or 3D gestures are typically coupled with haptic feedback.

Adding tactile sensations has also repeatedly been shown to have a significant impact on advertising effectiveness. To give just one example, a 2018 study found that the addition of haptic feedback to mobile adverts significantly strengthened purchase intentions.

It seems that adding haptic feedback to DOOH could well improve effectiveness. But is this actually borne out by the data? Last year, we conducted a study to find out.

The study looked at four digital movie posters that users could interact with via a hand tracking device. With Ultrahaptics’ technology, which uses ultrasound to create the sensation of touch in mid-air, we added tactile effects users could feel on their hands. We tested the experiences with and without mid-air haptics to see if we could measure the difference.

User engagement and haptics in DOOH

When we added mid-air haptics, participants said things such as, “I would pay more attention to it”, “I felt more engaged and immersed with the haptic feedback” and “The haptics transform it”. One participant even told us, “It would sell the product to me a lot quicker, to be honest.”

Our participants were telling us that they were more engaged when haptics were present. But was it possible actually to quantify this?

We used a proven method called the User Engagement Scale, which measures the depth of a user’s investment when interacting with a digital system.

Engagement is measured across four dimensions on a five-point scale. The results were dramatic: when haptics was added there was a significant increase in user engagement for every one of these dimensions:

  • 27% increase in focused attention
  • 16% increase in usability
  • 11% increase in aesthetic appeal
  • 24% increase in reward

Haptics, DOOH and traditional marketing metrics

We also measured whether this increase in user engagement resulted in measurable improvements in marketing metrics such as Net Promoter Score. It turns out that it did:

These qualitative reactions were strongly borne out by the quantitative data we collected:

  • 83% of people preferred the experience with mid-air haptics added
  • 73% of people would be more likely to make a purchase after experiencing a haptic poster
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) increased by an average of 56 points
  • Interaction time increased by 50%
  • Users’ sense of excitement increased (78% with haptics versus 66% without)

Read our technology and trend reports on the digital out-of-home sector

As digital signage systems transition from static displays to rich, dynamic interactive experiences, this study shows multiple proof points that adding mid-air haptics to hand tracking and 3D gestures has a measurable impact on engagement and brand perception.

Ultrahaptics’ technology is one of a very small number of haptic technologies suitable for large screens. It is the only commercially available haptic technology that can be used in conjunction with hand tracking.

If you’re interested in exploring how adding mid-air haptics to DOOH could enhance brands you’re working with, find out more about our products and customer support programs here.

Experimental design

The study was conducted with four digital movie posters that users could interact with via a Leap Motion hand tracking device. Each of the four movie posters were presented with and without mid-air haptic effects. The response of 17 participants to the posters was measured both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Measures included Net Promoter Score (NPS), emotional self-assessment, user engagement survey and time taken to assess each experience. There were 5 male and 12 female participants across a wide range of age brackets from 18-64. Just under 50% had used Ultrahaptics’ technology before.

Dr Hannah Limerick is a User Research and Insights Lead at Ultrahaptics.

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