New research aims to demonstrate why digital advertising planning needs a rethink

Latest ThinkPremiumDigital report into digital video advertising exposure and attention shows premium content is delivering 25 times the impact of social and YouTube

ThinkPremiumDigital latest Benchmark Series research on digital video ad opportunity and ad attention on digital platforms
ThinkPremiumDigital latest Benchmark Series research on digital video ad opportunity and ad attention on digital platforms

ThinkPremiumDigital’s general manager is hoping new research showing advertisers would need five hours of video time on social media to get the same amount of attention with premium video placements in 12 minutes can kickstart a new conversation around the digital planning process.  

ThinkPremiumDigital general manager Venessa Hunt, said the industry continued to hold up a digital platform’s overall reach and cost-effectiveness as the key measurement for gauging digital advertising’s impact and earning its place on the plan. Yet without getting any sense of an advertisement’s exposure opportunity and the attention paid to it by those viewers, it’s impossible to gauge what a digital ad placement is holistically doing for brand, she said.

As digital advertising matures and its brand impact extends beyond performance measures, it’s critical to better understand who it’s actually reaching and the attention those consumers and audiences are paying to the advertisement, Hunt said.

“The legacy of digital media is all about performance, and the fact people didn’t care about the quality of the impression because they were looking for some kind of output – a click or a lead,” Hunt said. “As times are changing, more branding dollars are going into the digital environment, so we need to look at the quality of the impression differently because it is serving a different purpose.”

ThinkPremiumDigital’s latest research set out to do this by trying to shine some light on ad exposure in various digital platform environments and the attention paid to them. To do this, MediaScience and founder, Dr Duane Varan, gathered 350 respondents in Perth and used eye tracking, biometrics and galvanic skin responses in its quest to physically measure the attention to a digital video ad.

Different labs and devices were used, including a TV in a lounge room as well as desktops and a consumer’s own mobile phone device. Each participant could choose content, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, premium news sites, BVOD channels. Ad inventory then appeared as it would in a real-world experience, Dr Varan said. The key determinant of exposure was a video appearing in the field of vision of the viewer.

Across digital environments involved, the research found that of time spent on premium sites, 10.2 per cent is with video advertising (BVOD, Web and phone offerings from premium content sites), versus 4.5 per cent on YouTube and 0.7 per cent on social media. This equated to an opportunity of 6.08 minutes for a person to see an ad in a premium site, versus 2.41 minutes on YouTube and 23 seconds on social media.

Paying attention to ads

ThinkPremiumDigital’s starkest findings came from ad attention, or how much respondents actually looked at an advertisement in these environments. Across respondents, 82 per cent paid attention in a premium publishing site, 71 per cent on YouTube and 50 per cent in social media.

This mean that minutes per hour of ad attention accrued to 5 minutes on premium sites, 1.54 minutes on YouTube and 12 seconds on social media. In other words, premium content is delivering 25 times the impact in the content inventory in terms of amount of time people will see the ad, Dr Varan said. Putting it another way, the research posited it’d take 12 minutes to get 1 minute of ad attention in the content experience on premium sites, compared to 31.57 minutes on YouTube and 5 hours on social media.

Across premium sites as well as digital platforms there is variability across the volume, format and accessibility of ad inventory and positioning available, as well as across device, which is why the research strived to reflect the natural consumer environment as much as possible, Dr Varan said. He also acknowledged format and device type needs to be factored in to how much opportunity an advertiser has when thinking through their digital advertising plan.

“This is part of a much larger story – video ads are not the only game in town and there are a lot of ways people consume media, and there might be other reasons for why different platforms and good for different things,” he said. “Here, we’re looking specifically at these video ads appearing and trying to understand those differences. Similar research needs to be done across 100 other variables. But attention is a good starting point, because if you don’t have attention, you don’t have anything else. Attention is the start of the conversation.”

Hunt wasn’t surprised by the findings given consumption behaviour. Where the disconnect comes from is that people aren’t looking at the full picture in the planning processes, she said.  

“When agencies and clients have gone to a screen strategy or video ROI strategy, they’re not taking into account some of those behaviours happening, not only on devices but also the actual way the platform is built for ad exposure to even happen,” Hunt said.  

“It’s often frustrated me when we talk about time on reach and exposure to advertising, because they are such different things. If a client is paying for time on a platform, or the ability for time on the platform, it doesn’t potentially benefit the brand. But if the ad isn’t even there, you’re using the wrong data to start that planning process.”

Hunt expected this kind of exposure and attention would become a factor in industry decision making, though she admitted the industry isn’t there yet. Measuring attention is problematic and variable.

“For now though, we have to start changing the conversation around the planning,” Hunt said. “Why are we spending so much on this platform over another? We’re using time spent as the justification, and the fact everyone is there and there a lot. Sure they are, but there are no ads. Changing the mindset around planning ad exposure and ad attention as opposed to platform exposure and attention is key.”

The latest research is part of the Premium Content Alliance's Benchmark series. Last year, this included a report into the state of recall of ads in digital environments.

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