Just because people CAN see your advert, doesn’t mean they WILL see it

Using eye tracking technology to gather concrete data about how people interact with adverts, Mike Follett and his company, Lumen Research, have unearthed some startling feedback into that important relationship.

Follett was speaking at SPARK Media’s recent workshop, which also included an address by Dr Virginia Beal from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing in Australia.

“Rather than have an opinion of what was working, as everyone has an opinion, I thought it would be more useful if there was data around how people engage with advertising,” Follett explained.

The attention technology company uses eye tracking to work out the reality of attention, measuring what people see rather than what they say they see. “It’s not that people lie about what they see with advertising, it’s that they just don’t care,” Follett added.

Follett explained that one of the biggest problems is that when media is traded, everyone uses a different currency for measurement. He advocated for a universal currency of attention. “There’s only one form of visual attention, so there is the possibility for a unified currency of attention, excluding radio, which allows you to compare across media,” he said.

The insights

Some fascinating insights have emerged.

“People are very good at ignoring adverts, but they ignore at different rates for different media and different categories,” explained Follett.

  • The average print ad will get looked at by 76% of people, as they are well designed to get attention.
  • The average desktop display digital ad will get looked at by 18% of people.
  • On average, digital ads get looked at for 1.2 seconds, while print ads for 2.2 seconds.
  • Only 5% of digital advertising gets looked at for more than a second, while 41% of print ads get looked at for more than a second.
  • Out of home poster ads have a 45% chance of being noticed.
  • If an advert is served on mobile, there is a 53% chance of it being noticed, and dwell time with mobile is higher than any other media type.

“Print ads get much more attention than digital ads … Print advertising is a far more effective way to get people to remember stuff, and it’s mostly the nature of the creative. We don’t know how to make digital advertising, most of it is rubbish,” Follett said.

His most important takeaway message was that, just because people CAN see your ad, doesn’t mean they WILL see it. Selective attention led people to only tune in to certain elements. People red print publications and online sites for news, and adverts were secondary. And when they do see adverts, they don’t read them, they look at them, skimming them as they make their way through the page.

Well branded advertising is crucial as people need to be able to, in the first half a second, know what brand the advert is for.

“People are not engaging with advertising long enough for it to work in a rational way. They are looking at them quickly … The more people notice an ad, the longer they tend to stay with it,” Follett revealed.

Need to earn people’s attention

“As advertisers, we have to earn people’s attention. You have to do something that’s worth looking at. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean that people will look at it … Find locations and opportunities where people are willing to be talked to, which means buying quality media, and secondly you have to say something that’s worth listening to,” he continued.

Emotional engagement and keeping it simple are key. Engaging creative is important, and the size and location of the advert can also make a difference. Where people see the advert (being in/on a reputable publication or website is just as critical) is also key.

What media advertising can do to get people’s attention

Follett left attendees with five things that media can do to grab people’s attention:

  • Viewable time matters. “Time is the crucial component of attention to advertising and when you are buying advertising you should be buying the time, rather than just opportunities,” Follett advised.
  • Buy larger formats as size does matter.
  • Video is valuable and you should be thinking about how to optimise this.
  • Choose your sites carefully, particularly websites. Find reputable ones that attract a quality audience.
  • Great creative. You can be on the right platform, in front of the right audience, but you will bore them or they will be disinterested if the creative is not brilliant.

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