Want Your Ad Seen for a Second? Keep it on Screen for 14 Seconds says Study

A new study charting how long an ad needs to be viewable on the screen in order to reach certain levels of gaze time, is opening many eyes on the difficulty of assuring that your campaign is even seen.

The eye-tracking research of 4,300 consumers found that online ads must be on the screen for at least 14 seconds ‘to have any chance of being looked at’ at all.

Read More: Facebook Metrics Should be Audited says Assoc. of National Advertisers


The study by InSkin Media, Research Now and Sticky found that ads that garner at least one second of gaze time are, on average, viewable on screen for 26 seconds. For an ad to receive two seconds gaze time the average viewability must be 33 seconds, and anything over three seconds must be viewable on screen for 37 seconds.

The study also found that a full 25% of ads defined as “viewable” – meeting industry guidelines of 50 percent of the pixels being on screen for a minimum of one second – are never even looked at.


“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 optimized 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.”

Size matters, added Doyle.

“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 optimizing on low engagement and low impact.”

Cut the clutter for effiveness

A major factor of whenever people look at ads is based on the amount of clutter on a page. In cluttered scenarios, ad gaze time decreases by a sizable 37 per cent.

“Ad clutter significantly reduces the attention each ad receives. This translates into weaker recall and lower ad effectiveness,” said 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.”

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