Ads don't have to be actively watched to be effective, research says

Results come after 15-month study by Dentsu Aegis Network involving 3,400 panel members in three countries.

 The Attention Economy: study involved 17,000 video views and 3,400 panel members
The Attention Economy: study involved 17,000 video views and 3,400 panel members

Advertisers could be too hung up on ensuring consumers are actively "watching" their video ads, a study suggests – with ads in a viewer’s peripheral vision potentially having almost as much value as those watched "eyes on".

That is one finding of The Attention Economy initiative, led by Dentsu Aegis Network and backed by broadcasters, social media and video-sharing platforms.

The first stage is a research project in partnership with Australian research company Centre for Amplified Intelligence that drew on 17,000 video views and 3,400 panel members in the UK, US and Australia. The study began 15 months ago and aims to establish new ways to measure and trade media based on the concept of attention.

It found that attention works differently on different platforms, with TV ads being the most ignored but delivering the highest impact.

The study combined screen data (viewability/time on screen) with eye-gaze tracking and short-time advertising strength measures to create a new definition of attention and assess whether a measure can be found that works consistently across platforms.

Clive Record, head of global media partnerships at Dentsu Aegis Network, said: "As an industry, we’ve been slow to react as an explosion in media choice has created a real scarcity of audience attention. In that context, metrics such as impressions, reach and ‘opportunities to see’ are increasingly problematic, as there can be huge differences in the value of those currencies across platforms and devices.

"These are just first steps, but the results strongly suggest we can use attention to rethink the way media is measured, planned and traded. Already, our increased understanding of attention can fuel better client strategies at a time when people are avoiding commercial messages more and more."

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