Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

In ongoing, large-sample studies conducted over the past two years, London-based research company Lumen has conclusively proved that actual viewing of adverts - as opposed to potential exposure to adverts – leads to almost nine times more sales. This is irrespective of whether the reading platform is digital or print.
Lumen, an attention technology company that uses eye tracking cameras to measure the visual engagement readers have with various media types, found that just because consumers can see an ad, does not mean that they will look at it. Advertising typically gets looked at for very short periods of time – regardless of how much detail advertisers include.

The big take-out: New eye-tracking technology which allows advertisers to measure actual viewing behaviour of ads, reveals that ads placed in a relevant context perform more effectively. 

“The benefit of this technology is that by using existing web cams in computers, costs are drastically reduced. The other benefit is that it eliminates the biggest problem in all research:  that of claimed versus actual behaviour,” says Peter Langschmidt, Research Consultant to the PRC (Publisher Research Council). The software, he explains, passively monitors the respondent’s web browsing as well as eye movement on every page and plots a ‘heat map’ of whatever content and advertising is being viewed.
“While print adverts are more viewable and achieve longer dwell times than their online counterparts, this is not the entire story,” says Langschmidt, “as quality content plays an important role as well.” 
“There are wide variations in how different media perform, with some sites and ad formats performing far better than others. The best sites do a much better job of delivering attention for advertisers than the average, with as much as 56% of viewable impressions being noticed. In fact, on average, ads on Newsbrand platforms are almost twice as likely to be seen compared to those on other websites, and they achieve longer dwell times.”
Alignment between advertising and content also helps facilitate ad attention, reveals Langschmidt, adding that contextual relevance matters. “Experimental studies have found that placing ads in a contextually-relevant environment dramatically boosts attention, with ads placed in the right context receiving 692 times more attention than those placed randomly,” he says.
“The longer consumers look at ads,” explains Langschmidt, “the more likely they are to remember the message and act on it”. 
Lumen installed eye-tracking technology to a sub sample of an existing FMCG consumer panel belonging to Nectar in the UK. By linking the initial online advertising interaction of the panel with subsequent offline shopping behaviour, the company was able to measure the effect that actual viewing of advertising has. Sales were significantly higher amongst those who actually looked at ads, up from two percent to 17%.
“Media planning is traditionally based on possible exposure, an opportunity to see, but this metric is becoming increasingly irrelevant, because if consumers don’t even view an advert, how can it possibly change behaviour?” points out Landgschmidt. “This new measure allows us to track the difference in sales between those who actually looked at the advert and those who did not.”
The Lumen data reveals that the best advertising inventory facilitates communication with consumers when they are in the right mood to be receptive to advertising messages, and then creates the time and space to enable advertisers to get their messages across.

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