Just how memorable are online ads that meet the bare minimum viewability standard set by the Media Rating Council? According to the latest research from the IPG Media Lab, many of them aren’t memorable at all.
That was one finding from the study, dubbed “Putting Science Behind The Standard,” according to Kara Manatt, SVP, Intelligence Solutions & Strategy at the Lab. She briefed attendees at a MediaPost conference in Lake Tahoe today on the research. It was designed to measure ad effectiveness against the MRC viewability standard.
The findings were based on a nationally representative panel of 10,000 people who were exposed to some 200 different online ad scenarios. A portion of the panel viewed ads on computers with webcams that tracked eye movements to compare with survey responses.
Manatt stressed that the goal of the research was not to knock the MRC standard (50% of an ad’s pixels in view for at least two seconds for video ads, one second for static ads) or to build a case for changing it. Why? Because that standard was not created to boost effectiveness but rather to make sure that viewers “have an opportunity to see ads that we pay for,” she said.
Nevertheless, effectiveness is clearly important to advertisers so the Lab undertook the research in part to glean how ads might be better created or placed “to make a greater impact at lower levels of viewability,” Manatt said.
Curiously, some ads that didn’t meet the MRC’s viewability standard had a greater impact than those that did. The research found that time is the more critical component of the standard—not the percentage of pixels that can be seen--when evaluating effectiveness. Typically ads that didn’t meet the 50% pixel threshold but were in view for five or more seconds were shown to be more memorable than ads that minimally met the full standard.
“The longer an ad is in view the more effective it is,” said Manatt. “Time in view is way more important,” she added because it takes time for the viewer to see, internalize and remember an ad.
The research also supported findings from earlier studies. Cluttered websites, for example, make for less effective ad environments. A video ad without sound (especially sound with branding) will have less impact too. Also, an ad with a logo at the top will have greater impact. “That’s been true for years but we haven’t been thinking about it in terms of viewability,” Manatt said.
One big takeaway from the research is that while advertisers should track viewability, “it’s not a KPI,” Manatt stressed. Advertiser goals are awareness and selling products, not getting “90% of an ad in view.”
Manatt also touched on the Lab’s research with Twitter that was unveiled last week that found that nearly half of the social network’s audience recalled video ads after one second in view.
At first those results seemed dubious, Manatt acknowledged. But the data was checked and rechecked. Her team concluded that the branding within twitter’s environment was a factor. “A lot of branding appears before the timer starts,” she said, such as logo, handles, tweets and hashtags.