Study: Cutting-Edge Mobile Ad Technology Literally Attracts More Eyeballs

A close-up shot of a beautiful blue woman eye looking at the camera.

New research from Inskin Media and Lumen has found that high-impact ad formats tailored for smartphones drive substantially higher attention (visual engagement) compared to standard mobile ad formats.

This is the first study to use cutting-edge technology from Lumen Research, which enables eye-tracking using just the smartphone camera.

Providing unique insight into mobile viewing behaviour, the study found that high-impact mobile formats garner more than 7 times the attention given to standard smartphone formats, resulting in 63 minutes of visual engagement per thousand impressions.

This means that for a brand, the standard investment of just one CPM (cost per thousand impressions), could deliver more than an hour of visual engagement with its ad.

The data also showed that high-impact mobile formats have the ability to boost attention levels for standard smartphone ads, with the latter gaining six additional minutes of visual engagement time per thousand impressions following exposure to high-impact formats.

Prior research has shown that brand recall ramps up after one second of visual engagement time with a display ad.

eyes graphic

The boost in attention on smartphones is also consistent with previous desktop-based research from Inskin, which found that visual engagement with standard desktop formats rose significantly (39 per cent) following exposure to a high-impact format – a process called “amplification”.

“This study is the most recent in Inskin’s long-running investment in understanding attention,” said Inskin Media project lead and insight manager Adi Kishore.

“We know from previous studies that attention is a strong indicator of brand uplift, and even conversion. This study helps us understand how mobile-optimised ad formats can dramatically boost attention on smartphones. It offers insight to planners increasingly focused on mobile and multiscreen campaigns, to leverage these effects without necessarily spending more.”

“With the majority of online time now spent on smartphones in the UK, it’s important for brands to clearly understand how mobile user behaviours differ from desktop,” said Lumen ResearchCEO Mike Follett.

“Our research shows that designing mobile formats with the right user experience in mind is critical because intrusive advertising can reflect poorly on the brand, while formats not optimised for mobile may simply be ignored.”

Other Key Findings:

  • Viewability levels for Inskin’s mobile formats are twice that of standard formats, and Inskin’s high-impact ads are also 50 per cent more likely to be seen. Visual engagement time, a critical metric for brand uplift, is also substantially higher (3.3 times).
  • Comparisons with the desktop results are also interesting, with smartphones outperforming desktop on some metrics, and desktop pulling ahead on others.


In June and July 2019, Lumen Research conducted 456 eye-tracking experiments among UK Adults, using their unique technology that captures users’ visual interactions with advertising via their smartphone camera.

The quantitative study involved three brands/creative units and two types of digital display formats: Inskin’s Mobile Pageskin and MPUs/Mobile Banners (300 x 250). These were served to respondents in different combinations over a single session. Beyond eye-tracking data, the controlled exposure methodology also allowed for the collection of brand metric data.

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