I was checkout out an ecommerce site. I scrolled down on a product page then moved my mouse towards the top of the screen as if I am leaving the web site then suddenly I got a popup promotion "Wait don't go....". This got me thinking "Did they just detect I was about to leave the page?". I didn't click on anything. Then I was thinking this is an interesting way of doing real time analytics and decision making from mouse movements. It's easy using javascript to know where the mouse pointer is every millisecond. From these x,y values, one can detect if the user is about to go to the address bar or close the browser tab. An indication the user is about to leave the page. This whole thing could have been just a timing coincidence.

My question is.. is this type of mouse location real time reading being used to forecast what the user might be doing? I haven't read anything about this. (I am aware of page heatmaps but that's a different issue)

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    Well, like you say, it's technically possible for sites to do this, so I bet that some probably are. But it's also a bit of a guess... some users wiggle their mouse around all over the place and don't go anywhere! – MrWhite Feb 3 '16 at 0:15
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    @w3dk There would some intelligence when reading mouse values. If you're wiggling your mouse, I can determine your're wiggling your mouse. Someone trying to leave the page will move his mouse upward towards the top. – Tony_Henrich Feb 3 '16 at 0:36
  • True. ....I can't stop thinking of this now! lol – MrWhite Feb 3 '16 at 0:45

As much as this idea is interesting, I'd have to say no.

The reason is because we have to look at every device in existence, and since desktops are still in use today, one could still have a very old computer and use the old-fashioned lynx web browser to browse web pages, and I'm pretty sure in that browser you'll have a hard time detecting mouse movements. I don't think it even supports Javascript.

Also, many web browsers today support keyboard shortcuts that allow for common tasks to be performed. For example the backspace key (which I use) can be used to return to the previous page when the focus (a.k.a. the blinking cursor) is not on the text box.

Having said that, it's possible someone clicks a box with a mouse then starts typing, then clicks 100 random blank spots on the page and then hits backspace to return to the previous page, and because of this, its hard to capture if the mouse location can indicate that a user is leaving a page.

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    Why do you even worry about such an antiquated browser that is probably a super tiny fraction of 1% of browser usage? If a browser doesn't support Javascript, then don't do anything. I didn't say it needs to be 100% reliable and foolproof. If you can't detect what you're looking for, then don't do anything. It's just a non critical optional promotion popup or whatever. If you can't show it, no harm done. If you can't find a way to display an ad for those edge cases, then simply no ad is displayed. The goal is to serve the majority of normal cases. – Tony_Henrich Feb 3 '16 at 8:38

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