Visual Attention Service from 3M Quite Remarkable

This might be the coolest, most remarkable thing you'll come across today. A new Web-based visual attention service launched by 3M enables graphic designers and marketers to test and analyze the impact of creative and increase the likelihood that viewers will pay attention.

The 3M Visual Attention Service analyzes all of the visual elements within an image (color, shape, contrast and text) to predict if a design's visual hierarchy is strong enough to attract a viewer's attention.

"Creative designs have historically been evaluated subjectively, but stakeholders are increasingly looking for scientific affirmation that designs will draw attention to key messages. This is a crucial step in compelling viewers to take the right action," said Bill Smyth, business manager, 3M Digital Out of Home Department. "Art truly meets science with our latest innovation. We've leveraged the company's 30 years of vision science experience to create an easy-to-use tool that delivers the objective assurance executives need while maintaining the designer's creative freedom."

The potential uses are immense - from print and display ads to packaging concepts, all manner of creative media can be evaluated in different scenes or contexts. Users simply upload images to the portal and the tool will analyze and return the results. This will be particularly useful for advertising agencies and design firms looking to gain an edge on the performance of the creative they produce.

"When designing Out-of-Home advertising, it's crucial to get a key message across in just a matter of seconds," said Mendi LeBlanc, Creative Director, Lamar Advertising Company. "The Visual Attention Service by 3M allows us to check our design instincts against something scientific. Clients respect that we can provide this proven validation, especially when it is provided by a company they can trust like 3M."

The service has been in a market test since November '09, but 3M's service is now globally available and costs as little as $5 for each image upload through the Microsoft Windows Azure platform.