New research has found that Australians are watching twice as many ads as they think they do.
The study was conducted by Kantar, Eye Square and Google and found 51 per cent of ads minutes shown across platforms had ‘eyes on screen’ — double what participants self-reported as their typical ad watch time.
YouTube was seen to drive the most attention of all screens at 64 per cent, with ‘Catch up’ TV accounting for 54 per cent and Free To Air TV 49 per cent.
The research used a new method of eye-tracking technology for the first time in Australia to get a clearer picture of people’s viewing habits as they went about everyday life at home and on the move.
Online video was found to have the highest per cent of eyes on screens due to changes in how people were watching video content. YouTube’s shorter and less predictable ad breaks meant people were less likely to get up during that time. 43 per cent of YouTube viewers also claimed to take their device with them while they completed other tasks.
While the study showed participants watched more ads than they thought, it also found that on average only 51 per cent of ad minutes had actual ‘eyes on screens’. It highlights what has been termed a “scarcity of attention as a commodity” – or the significant value advertisers place on the times when people are actually focused on ads.
Google Australia head of large customer marketing Mark Wheeler said: “While marketers and advertisers might be excited to learn people are watching more ads than thought, it also shows that sustained attention is something they need to work hard for. The lesson here is to ensure your advertising creative is clever and engaging, and that you’re using the right mix of media.”
Wheeler said screen size is a much less important predictor of attention than where people are viewing, what they are choosing to watch based on their personal interests, and how creative the content is.
Kantar executive director – media & digita Mark Henning said: “Reach and exposure are important media measures, but they don’t tell the whole story. Ads that are successful at gaining the attention of consumers – through great creative, and being viewed in the right environment, have the best chance of effectively impacting consumers.”
The study tracked 2808 ads and 741 minutes of footage. Participants opted in and wore discreet, eye-tracking glasses by Eye Square as they went about their daily life, allowing researchers to follow every glance and gaze directed towards TV, phone, laptop and tablet, playing Free To Air TV, Catch Up TV, YouTube and Facebook video.