New Global Research Reveals Dynamics of Consumer Attention in Slower-Scroll, Highly Immersive Environments

Joint research by OMG, Yahoo and Amplified Intelligence explores impact of format, context, demos and dayparts

Amid a fragmented media ecosystem and ongoing identity deprecation, advertisers are turning to attention as a metric to better understand media quality and optimize campaign performance.

To that end, Omnicom Media Group agency OMD Worldwide, Yahoo and leading attention researchers Amplified Intelligence, today 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.”

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).

“This study shows just how nuanced consumer attention really is,” said Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, Head of Global Revenue & Client Solutions at Yahoo. “The sweet spot is in combining the right formats in the right environment and context relevant to each audience. With this research, we’re understanding more about consumers as behavior evolves, and are able to deliver more engaging experiences.”

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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 matter. 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.

“Combined with the work OMD and Amplified Intelligence have been doing for the past two years to establish attention KPIs at the brand and platform level, the Attention in Context study adds another chapter to OMD’ s attention playbook that is helping clients optimize their marketing strategies and spend to earn the level of consumer attention that will increase both sales and share,” said Caitriona Henry, Global Brand Strategy Lead, OMD Worldwide.

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