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When fans visit a ballpark, they probably don’t pay too much attention to in-park advertising in the form of signage and digital displays. However, their brains certainly register this information, and one Major League Baseball (MLB) team has the research to prove it.

Ted Baugh is the senior director of corporate partnerships for the Cleveland Indians, and he used an innovative eye-tracking study to reveal how often and how long fans looked at in-park advertising while attending games.

The Indians organization is the first in the MLB to analyze fan behavior, as it relates to the advertisements sprinkled around the stadium. This study will play a major role in how future in-park signage will be designed.

Not surprisingly, the digital signs that move and project sound receive more attention compared to static billboard-style signs at Progressive Field, where the Indians play each season.

According to Baugh, the data collected from the eye-tracking study allows him to give the TV value of a home-plate sign to the Indians’ many marketing accounts. Then, companies can factor in other variables, like average attendance, and project cost-per-thousand sales figures. While these figures aren’t an exact science, they can provide clients with the information needed to determine ROI on advertising money spent on sports.

This type of information is especially important in markets like Cleveland, where the Indians are also competing with NBA and NFL teams. These days, it’s just not enough to be able to say you advertise with the Indians or the Browns – companies want real-life metrics to back up every dollar spent.

Baugh and his team have already learned a lot from this eye-tracking study, and they are considering using similar studies in the future to monitor concessions as well as visitor flow in and out of the ballpark. In other words, eye-tracking technology is helping to improve the fan experience as well as adding value to the teams’ marketing strategy.


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