FCA to use eye-tracking to foil misleading adverts

FCA to use eye-tracking to foil misleading adverts

The FCA is exploring the use of eye tracking technology to help combat misleading promotions or advertising.

The regulator wants to understand further how consumers engage with adverts and how visual attention affects decision making.

The development is revealed within the regulator's new 47 page paper entitled From advert to action: behavioural insights into the advertising of financial products, which summarises available academic studies on psychology and decision making relevant to advertising.

In the paper, the FCA notes that research shows users typically view web pages in an F-shaped pattern with content in top left locations tending to be viewed before, or more frequently than content located on right or lower locations. This means there is potential for information that is displayed in other locations to be missed.

The report states that such research will help the FCA "to identify situations where consumers may miss important information or pay less attention to it and which could therefore lead to harm".

For example, consumers may miss key information in the periphery of the advertisement.

It goes on to say: "In the wrong circumstances, techniques that encourage consumers to act without their overt  conscious consideration could lead to misunderstanding and detriment."

The FCA's general guidance on advertising and promotions is that they should clearly explain what the product or service is, how it works and how an individual could benefit from it.

Such adverts must also be clear about the costs involved and whether there are any risks to money placed in a product.

Nick Bamford, executive director at Informed Choice, saw the move as a positive development. 

"We should applaud that the regulator is trying to catch this early, [preventing misleading adverts] is one of the key roles of the FCA."