Editor’s Note: This paper from David Bassett and Mike Follett from Lumen Research was selected as Best Paper at the 2017 PDRF (Publishing and Data Research Forum) international conference in Madrid.
At the 2015 PDRF conference, along with Andrew Green (IPSOS), David Bassett (Lumen Research) presented findings on attention to print advertising from our paper Engagement as Visual Attention: A New Story for Publishers. Drawing on eye-tracking data collected from Lumen’s weekly press omnibus, Lumen Research presented statistics on the typical levels of attention Press ads achieve, highlighted the role editorial plays in delivering attention for advertisers, and went on to argue that the emerging scalability of eye-tracking provides a good option for measuring the thorny concept of reader engagement.
In this year’s paper, Bassett updated the conference with some new data Lumen has collected on attention to digital advertising together with our partners Aimia.
As the data accumulates though, there is one overwhelming conclusion of pivotal significance for both publishers and advertisers: media environment is critical to engaging audiences with advertising—and to an extent often overlooked and undervalued by current media markets.
The Reality of Digital Ad Attention: Cutting Through is Tough. The headline stats on attention to display advertising are sobering. It’s well known that digital advertising has viewability issues, with only around half of banner ads meeting the IAB standard of 50% of the ad being in view for at least 1 second. What is less well appreciated is that viewability far from guarantees attention. Over all the ad impressions we have recorded among our panelists, 66% of them were “viewable”. But among these, only 18% were noticed at all; 82% were completely missed, not recording a single moment when the user’s eyes were fixated on them. Overall, that means only 12% of all impressions are actually seen.
It’s worth contrasting this with data on press. Here, there are much higher levels of attention, with 73% of “viewable” ads being seen (in the sense that 73% of ads are seen when people are reading the double page spread with the ad on). Not only are digital display impressions less likely to be viewed than press, but the dwell times people spend with the advertising is also lower. Lumen Research newspaper data shows that on average people spend 2.2 seconds looking at Press Ads, around which there is a large variation. 41% of viewable press ads are seen for a least a second, with 7% seen for more than 5 seconds. That might not sound like a huge amount, but it is much higher than we see for digital display, where the average dwell time is just 1.2 seconds.
A quick look at advertising in context across these channels is also instructive. Compare the following images and it’s easy to see why digital display advertising is usually less noticed than press (see the examples in the link). Press ads are just much bigger things, and not so easy to put out of view. Another factor is less obvious: Press ads “load” at the same time as the content, whereas digital ads experience latency.
Bassett, D. (2017, December). The Value of Media Environment in Engaging Digital Display Audiences. Publishing and Data Research Forum.