Protocol for a remote webcam-based eye-tracking experiment for examining visual attention to tobacco marketing materials

eye tracking
remote eye tracking
e-cigarette marketing
young adults
mobile phone

Chen-Sankey, J., Elhabashy, M., Gratale, S., Geller, J., Mercincavage, M., Strasser, A. A., Delnevo, C. D., Jeong, M., & Wackowski, O. A. (2023). Examining Visual Attention to Tobacco Marketing Materials Among Young Adult Smokers: Protocol for a Remote Webcam-Based Eye-Tracking Experiment. JMIR research protocols, 12, e43512.


Julia Chen-Sankey

Rutgers University

Maryam Elhabashy

Stefanie Gratale

Jason Geller

Melissa Mercincavage

Andrew A. Strasser

Cristine D. Delnevo

Michelle Jeong

Olivia A. Wackowski


January 2023




Eye tracking provides an objective way to measure attention, which can advance researchers’ and policy makers’ understanding of tobacco marketing influences. The development of remote webcam-based eye-tracking technology, integrated with web-based crowdsourcing studies, may be a cost-effective and time-efficient alternative to laboratory-based eye-tracking methods. However, research is needed to evaluate the utility of remote eye-tracking methods.


This study aimed to detail the process of designing a remote webcam-based eye-tracking experiment and provide data on associations between participant characteristics and the outcomes of experiment completion.


A total of 2023 young adult (aged 18-34 years) cigarette smokers in the United States were recruited to complete a web-based survey that included a 90-second remote eye-tracking experiment that examined attention to e-cigarette marketing materials. Primary outcome measures assessed the completion of the remote eye-tracking experiment—specifically, experiment initiated versus not initiated, experiment completed versus not completed, and usable versus nonusable eye-tracking data generated. Multivariable logistic regressions examined the associations between outcome measures and participants’ sociodemographic backgrounds, tobacco use history, and electronic devices (mobile vs desktop) used during the experiment.


Study recruitment began on April 14, 2022, and ended on May 3, 2022. Of the 2023 survey participants, 1887 (93.28%) initiated the experiment, and 777 (38.41%) completed the experiment. Of the 777 participants who completed the experiment, 381 (49%) generated usable data. Results from the full regression models show that non-Hispanic Black participants (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.64, 95% CI 0.45-0.91) were less likely to complete the eye-tracking experiment than non-Hispanic White participants. In addition, female (vs male) participants (AOR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01-2.11), those currently using (vs not using) e-cigarettes (AOR 2.08, 95% CI 1.13-3.82), and those who used mobile (vs desktop) devices (AOR 5.10, 95% CI 3.05-8.52) were more likely to generate usable eye-tracking data.


Young adult participants were willing to try remote eye-tracking technology, and nearly half of those who completed the experiment generated usable eye-tracking data (381/777, 49%). Thus, we believe that the use of remote eye-tracking tools, integrated with crowdsourcing recruitment, can be a useful approach for the tobacco regulatory science research community to collect high-quality, large-scale eye-tracking data in a timely fashion and thereby address research questions related to the ever-evolving