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BizReport : Advertising archives : September 30, 2016

The effect of clutter on ad gaze time and viewability

A new study reveals the effect of cluttered environments on ad gaze time, and warns about the dangers of optimizing campaigns for viewability.

by Helen Leggatt

The study by InSkin Media, Research Now, Sticky and Moat involved nearly 4,300 consumers and various technologies including eye-tracking (by Sticky) and viewability measurement (by Moat).

It found that just 25% of ads defined as viewable by industry guidelines (50% of pixels being on screen for at least one second) never get seen and just one third achieve a gaze time (time actually spent looking at the ad) of less than one second. Less than half (42%) registered a gaze time of at least one second. The median time a viewable ad is actually gazed at was found to be just 0.7 seconds.

In fact, to be looked at for up to one second, an ad needs to be viewable for 14 seconds, found the research. Meanwhile, ads that achieve at least one second of gaze time need to be viewable for an average of 26 seconds. More than half a minute (33 seconds) of viewability is needed for an ad to register a gaze time of 3 seconds or more.

"A campaign should be assessed in three stages: did the ad have the opportunity to be seen, was it actually looked at and what was the impact,"said Steve Doyle, InSkin Media's CCO. "It should be judged and optimised against the last stage (impact) but the focus on viewability means campaigns are increasingly optimised against the first stage (the opportunity) which can be counter-productive to maximising impact."

"Why? Smaller formats have higher 'opportunity to be seen' rates as their size means it's easier to hit viewability thresholds - but gaze time is very low. Thus, it's optimising on low engagement and low impact."

However, in cluttered environments, ad gaze time was significantly impacted, decreasing by 37% across all ad formats studied. Furthermore, ad recall drops by an average 20%, with billboard formats most affected (-26%).

"Ad clutter significantly reduces the attention each ad receives. This translates into weaker recall and lower ad effectiveness," says Doyle."Publishers must tread the fine line between more ads which drives more revenue, on a CPM basis, or less ads which mean stronger results for advertisers and a better user experience. It's obvious which one is most conducive to long-term loyalty from clients and readers."

Earlier this year, ad verification company Meetrics released data showing that ad viewability levels in the UK during Q1 2016 reached the highest in 18 months, at 54%. However, that figure dropped in Q2 to 47% putting the UK way behind other European countries such as France (62%) and Germany (60%).

Tags: advertising, eye tracking, research, viewability

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