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Articles - Mobile Marketing - March 19, 2019

Mobile Ads Do More Work in One Second Than You Might Think

Industry standards for ‘ad viewability’ overshadow what happens in the blink of an eye

Mobile advertisements begin triggering reactions in less than a second, new research suggests, leading some brands to re-examine their creative strategies as well as the industry’s emphasis on longer exposures.

Consumers took 400 milliseconds to see and react emotionally to 67% of mobile ads tested in a study by neuroscience research company Neurons Inc. for the Mobile Marketing Association, a trade group of marketers, agencies, media sellers and technology players.

On desktops, it took two to three seconds to hit the same mark, according to the researchers, who said they used eye-tracking and EEG monitoring to measure what 900 participants saw and how they responded.

Although all brands had the same chance at being seen, bigger ones triggered emotional reactions more quickly.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s marketing agencies and internal teams will apply the findings, said Tressie Lieberman, vice president for digital marketing and off-premise at the restaurant chain.

“We have to develop a strategy that works for the first second,” Ms. Lieberman said. “That doesn’t mean the second second doesn’t matter either, but it’s really about immediately breaking through.”

Marketers, including Ms. Lieberman, already pay attention to the first moments of their mobile ads, especially in social-media feeds in which the imperative is to stop people from scrolling, and previous research by others has produced similar conclusions.

Common tactics to open strong include featuring human faces looking directly at the camera or the product, using color and contrast to make something stand out, depicting strong emotions, and delivering more complex or more simple compositions than the surrounding feeds.

But the new findings quantify and could expand marketers’ understanding in some ways—suggesting, for example, that ads not only make lightning-quick impressions but can misfire in a flash as well.

Eye on Viewability

1-800-Flowers.com Inc. may re-evaluate its ad inventory that doesn’t meet industry guidelines for “viewability,” which deems ads viewable if they appear halfway on the screen for at least one second in the case of motionless display ads and for two seconds for video.

“Right now the ‘right’ way to buy ads is to look at whether the ad was viewable,” said Amit Shah, chief marketing officer at the online floral retailer. “Anything lower than that you view as basically ineffective. This research shows that I need to be very considerate of what happens with that inventory as well.”

Viewability should never be…

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