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Online ads need to be on screen for at least 14 seconds to be seen, finds eye-tracking study

By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

September 30, 2016 | 3 min read

For an online ad to be looked at for just one second it needs to be viewable for at least 14, according to a recently conducted eye-tracking study.

The study – which was carried out by InSkin Media, Research Now and Sticky and involved 4,300 consumers – found that ads achieving at least one second of gaze time are, on average, viewable for 26 seconds. For an ad to receive two seconds gaze time the average viewability is 33 seconds, while anything over three seconds gaze time will see an ad have an average viewability of 37 seconds.


eye tracking

Overall, the eye-tracking results indicated that as much as a quarter of ads defined as viewable – i.e. meeting minimum industry guidelines of 50 per cent of the pixels being on screen for least one second – are never looked at. A further third had a gaze time of less than a second.

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The median time a viewable ad is actually gazed at is just 0.7 seconds.

Among the main barriers to how long people look at ads is the clutter on a page. In cluttered scenarios, ad gaze time decreases by 37 per cent.

“Ad clutter significantly reduces the attention each ad receives. This translates into weaker recall and lower ad effectiveness,” said Steve Doyle, InSkin Media’s chief commercial officer.

“Publishers must tread the fine line between more ads which drives more revenue, on a CPM basis, or less ads which mean stronger results for advertisers and a better user experience. It’s obvious which one is most conducive to long-term loyalty from clients and readers.”

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