'Fools errand' and the billion dollar question: Is 1.7 seconds enough exposure for ads to work? No, but it's beyond Facebook
In numerous "advertising attention" studies now done across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TV in Australia and international markets, Professor Karen Nelson-Field has data which answers the critical question many marketers and media specialists are either still not asking or care for: How much time does an ad need in front of a user or viewer to be effective? On average around 50% of "time-on-screen" has no viewer attention paid at all. And no platform is immune. Here's everything you need to know - fast.
Last week a billion dollar-plus question was posed by Jonathan Fox, Director of Effectiveness at Nine Network, who asked Mi3 readers a question that everyone really wants to ask Facebook but
The short answer is, no. But the longer answer is far more interesting and, perhaps, surprising. And it goes far and beyond Facebook.
- The adequate number of seconds is not a question specific to Facebook, it’s a question for the entire media and advertising system
- “Attentive” seconds as a measure can truly answer the question.
- Beware proxy measures of attention or engagement - opaque metrics of time
- On average around 50% of viewer or user time
- Get this: Better performing media platforms (in terms of overall sales uplift), seem to perform better at lower numbers of attentive seconds than poorer performing platforms do even at higher numbers of attentive seconds.
- The simple truth is you should pay more for quality attention.
You know what it’s like reading an article and talking (sometimes yelling) at your screen - we all do it. You might also know that feeling when you realise you can actually answer a difficult question. This time I thought I’d come forward and talk to your screen, not just mine.
The extensive multi-country work we have done on attention and the effectiveness of the (low) global viewability standard, I’m asked this question often: Is the Media Ratings Council’s international benchmark of 50% ad viewability and a two
-second cut-off enough?
We do see a material uplift in sales and attention when both pixels – or the actual size of the ad on a screen - and time, are increased. We also know that pixels (size of the ad) are more important than time. There is no point in an ad being on the screen for longer, if it can barely be seen. I have published this data before. What I haven’t talked about is the findings from our multi-country studies that specifically describe differences in effectiveness between groups of ads that were seen at above - and below - two seconds of time.
Let’s just get a few things straight first.
1. My answer to this question has no relation to the Facebook boycott, which is a totally separate (and important) debate.
2. This answer is not directed at Facebook; this is clearly a marketing, media and advertising ecosystem issue.
3. We look at the number of “attentive” seconds, not the number of seconds an ad was on screen, and there is a big difference.
Attentive seconds can truly answer the question being asked.
As a measure it represents, on average, how many seconds of human attention were actually paid to advertising. Time-on-screen, does not. We see in our data that time-on-screen, a metric that is used as a proxy for attention, in reality tells us little about whether a human has actually seen the ad or not.
We find that on average around 50% of time-on-screen has no attention paid at all – so time-on-screen can equally represent distraction as it can engagement. And before you start yelling at your screen, no platform is immune to this problem. My point here is, that if we truly want to answer this question then we need to consider ads that were actually looked at above and below two-seconds.
The data presented below comes from one of our international collections (pre-Covid). It represents around 4,500 single ad views over four platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Linear TV. For this collection, we also collected brand choice after the ad exposure in order to determine Short Term Advertising Strength, a peer-reviewed, globally-accepted measurement benchmark (STAS). STAS, at its most basic, describes sales uplift after an ad was viewed. We use it to cross-check the relationship between attention and meaningful behavioural outcomes.
Quite simply, this table shows the difference between the STAS above and below the two-second mark across the four platforms.
There are a few things of note here.
First, it shows conclusively that there is a difference between above and below two
Second, and this is the surprising bit, you will notice the relative similarity in the number of STAS points difference across the platforms (no significant deviations from the average). What this says is that two seconds is not enough regardless of platform, even TV, and the size of the effect is similar.
Third, better performing platforms (in terms of overall STAS), seem to perform better at lower numbers of attentive seconds than poorer performing platforms do even at
So why does this matter to you?
If someone is telling you that two seconds is enough, don’t believe them. A deeper understanding of real human attention within the advertising ecosystem, is what it takes to leverage ROI for media spend. Don’t mistake this comment for advocacy of lower CPMs though. I have said this before and will say it again: seeking low cost reach is a fool’s errand. The simple truth is you should pay more for quality attention if you want to grow your brand.
Here are some stats: Almost three quarters of Aussies engage with brand content every week – 90 per cent in the 18 to 24-year-old range. A massive 84 per cent of consumers took some form of action – buy, share, follow or save. Of those, the most common action at 34 per cent was purchasing the product. Those are the findings of News Corp Australia’s recent research into the power that brand marketing has, released at its Decoded event. Big money follows the good brand and content marketing, and those that crack this code can cash in.
The butterfly effect: Five ways digital out of home trumps static – and why smart marketers use DOOH for more than awareness building
If static out of home was the caterpillar, digital is the butterfly. It’s better in just about every way, QMS’ Chief Strategy Officer Christian Zavecz writes. Through five research-backed elements – impact, precision, cut-through, amplification and accountability – DOOH is flipping misconceptions about the channel on their head.
The marketing and advertising sector is alienating a quarter of Aussies by primarily showing traditional – mum, dad and two children – families, new research shared by Nine shows. One in four people feel their family is poorly represented, and even though single parents make up 10 per cent of our population, only 12 per cent of the public recognise one adult and a child as a family. What brands should focus on is honesty, realism and rawness, Nine’s Toby Boon says.