Australians watch more ads than they think

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 14 August 2020

Australians watch twice as many ads as they think they do, according to a new study, but creatives still need to work hard to maintain their attention.

The study, conducted by Kantar, Google and Eye Square, used eye-tracking technology to get a better understanding of people’s viewing habits throughout the day.

It found that 51% of ad minutes shown across platforms had “eyes on screen”, double what participants self-reported as their typical watch time.

YouTube, owned by Google, was found to have the most attention of all screens at 64%, with catch-up TV accounting for 54% and FTA TV at 49%.

YouTube’s shorter, less predictable ad breaks, which meant people were less likely to get up during that time, is thought to drive its lead in capturing attention. 43% of YouTube viewers also claimed to take their device with them while they completed other tasks.

Google Australia’s head of large customer marketing Mark Wheeler says that 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.

“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,” says Wheeler.

“The lesson here is to ensure your advertising creative is clever and engaging, and that you’re using the right mix of media.”

The study tracked 2808 ads and 741 minutes of footage. Participants wore discreet eye-tracking glasses by Eye Square as they went about their daily life, allowing researchers to follow any attention directed towards a TV, phone, laptop and tablet that was playing FTA TV, catch up TV, YouTube and Facebook videos.

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