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New Study: How to Keep Consumer Attention Online?

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A new global research study reveals how to attract and keep consumer attention online. 

In today’s always-connected, omnichannel, content-saturated world, consumer attention is hard to capture and nearly impossible to keep. Impressions, views and clicks may not tell the whole story when deciphering ad impact. So what is the best way to capture their attention? The right platform, ad format, brand, category, audience and relevancy play a role. But there’s even more to consider.

Omnicom Media Group agency OMD Worldwide, Yahoo and leading attention researchers Amplified Intelligence, released a landmark study, Attention in Context, that explores the dynamics of slower-scroll, highly immersive environments for driving attention in mobile advertising.

Encompassing more than 128,000 ads served to 4,400 respondents in four countries (US, Canada, US, Australia), Attention in Context is one of the largest mobile-web attention study conducted to-date.

Amplified Intelligence founder and CEO Karen Nelson-Field said,

This work adds to the growing body of evidence showing that – contrary to industry attempts to wrap it up in a neat package like a CPM — attention is neither a commodity nor a currency. Rather, it’s a highly nuanced metric that enables more effective creative, planning and buying strategies, and decisions.

Key findings include:

Video is key for attention

When analyzing attention by format, video-based formats were, surprisingly, top performers, capturing the combined impact of sight and motion. With a target threshold for active attention at 2.5 seconds, the average active attention for video formats was 2.73. The video formats included video interscroller, native video and native pre-roll.

Interscroller is the top attention format

Non-video interscroller ads – ads that reveal the content as the reader scrolls down – are the most effective format in slower-scroll, highly immersive environments, according to the analysis. This is the case regardless of the product or service being advertised (product category), with interscroller delivering 3.3 seconds of active attention – 30% higher than the 2.5-second minimum for active attention.

Video interscroller – showcasing the power of interscroller ads, in general – and native video were the only other formats to outperform against the minimum target.

Short is sweet – video length matters

Not all video is created equally when it comes to attention. Active attention decreases as video length increases, with 30-second videos delivering only 1.2 seconds of active attention, while 15-second spots yielded 3.3 seconds.

Surrounding content can play a role in driving higher attention

Looking at the role of context, Yahoo’s sports and finance content delivered the greatest level of attention for both category endemic and non-endemic Interscroller ads.
Attention can be garnered at any time. Surprisingly, the study found that there is no “golden hour” or day for active attention, which the study showed to be consistent across all dayparts and days of the week.

Attention increases with age but ad length & format still matters

Not surprisingly, the results showed that attention levels increase with age, with Gen Z showing significantly lower levels of both active and passive attention than Boomers. Format preferences also vary by age, with Boomers responding best to Interscroller ads, and Gen Xers leaning into video. Meanwhile, the only ad format to outperform among Gen Z is the interscroller, although video comes close to hitting the active attention minimum.

No gender difference.

However, gender is not a differentiator, as revealed by consistent levels of active and passive attention between those respondents who identify as either male or female. Active attention (average 1.6 seconds) and passive attention (average 9.1) was identical for both groups.

About the study

Attention in Context research was conducted from April 5-26, 2022.

For the study, which was conducted across Yahoo’s premium digital properties, all respondents were recruited and volunteered to participate, providing access to highly accurate, granular and permission-based insights.

Amplified Intelligence’s attentionTRACE mobile app collected data using facial footage from phone cameras and metadata on viewability, scroll patterns, sound and phone orientation. Altogether, responses to 128,000 mobile web advertisements were categorized into three levels of attention: active (eyes on the ad, most likely to deliver a positive impact), passive (eyes on screen, not on ad) and non- (eyes not on screen or ad).

About OMD

OMD is the world’s largest media network with more than 12,000 people working in over 100 countries.. Named Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year in 2019 and 2020, OMD is ranked the best performing global media network overall according to RECMA, the world’s most effective media agency network in the Effie Effectiveness Index and was named Media Network of the Year at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

About Yahoo

Yahoo reaches nearly 900 million people around the world, bringing them closer to finance, sports, shopping, gaming and news—with the trusted products, content and tech that fuel their day. For partners, we provide a full-stack platform for businesses to amplify growth and drive more meaningful connections across advertising, search and media.

About Amplified Intelligence

Amplified is a global leader in the research and measurement of online human attention — the most valuable and important indicator of ad success. The company’s pioneering AI-powered technology, world-leading research and easy-to-use media planning platform help brands and agencies run more efficient, impactful and successful ad campaigns. Created in Adelaide, Australia, in 2017 by Professor Karen Nelson Field — a globally acclaimed author and media science pioneer — the company’s mission is to revolutionize the way media is traded to focus on attention, making it fairer and more accountable.

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