By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist and Jake McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer

Marketers are keenly interested in the amount of attention received by their advertisements, yet they’re also aware that attention is difficult or sometimes impossible to measure. This crucial question speaks to how fully your customer processes your advertisement, from memory of subtle elements of the ad, like images, to memory and attention to more complicated elements of the ad like semantics and mental associations. 

A recent study by Ebiquity, Lumin Research and TVision gets at some of these important questions by using eye tracking and head movement data recorded while viewers view advertisements in their “natural context”. And really, it’s these sort of real-world biological measures that are needed to fully understand how attention is directed to ads. They help inform whether the audience has their eyes on the screen when the ad appears and how they move their eyes throughout the screen. 

The recent mini-book called The Challenge of Attention, summarizes these key findings about consumer attention. First, they note that TV advertisements have the longest viewing duration, with an average viewing of 13 seconds for a thirty second ad. YouTube comes in second with social media and digital display coming in at three and four on the list. The research additionally shows that 26% of TV ads play out to individuals in empty rooms, and 43% actually get looked at when someone is in the room. These numbers can help marketers get a more accurate picture of their audience’s behavior and psychology when their ads appear on the screen. 

Armed with these attentive viewing statistics, the study additionally looks at the cost of presenting video advertisements in these different forms of media. Here is where the results get interesting because it becomes possible to determine the equivalent number of social media posts that would be required to achieve a similar amount of viewing attention as TV ads. When combining these pieces of information together, the research shows that TV is still one of the most cost effective and valuable forms of media for getting your customers’ attention through video. 

In addition, prior psychological research shows that television advertising has a greater psychological impact because the user assumes that many other people also see the same advertisement. As a result, the viewer believes that many other people are also aware of the product, many others will share similar views of the product, and that the brand itself is more trustworthy. 

The viewer’s attention combines with their understanding of the media (and who they think also uses that same media) to shape their perception of the product and the brand. This is just one of many reasons why marketers are careful about their choice of media and the relationship between media channels chosen and their impact on brand perception. 

At Intermark Group, we’re always on the lookout for ways to embed consumer psychology in our creative advertising, making sure your ads appear at the right place and time. Feel free to give us a call at 833-578-1314 or email us at to discuss how we can help with your marketing challenges.

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