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At Lumen, we have known for some time that not all ads are created equal: your likelihood to look at an ad on some sites is much greater than on others. But what about audiences? Is everyone equally likely to notice or spend time with advertising?

We have analysed two years’ worth of attention data from the Lumen panel and it seems that there are large differences by audience. One of the biggest factors influencing attention to advertising. Younger consumers are much better at avoiding advertising than their parents (are we still allowed to call these people ‘silver surfers’?).

The much sought after 18-34 demographic has a 16% chance of looking at viewable ad. whereas consumers aimed 55+ are twice as likely to notice the ads that are served to them, noticing 32% of the viewable ads that they are served. Larger formats such as Billboards are noticed by 22% of younger consumers, but a whopping 48% of older consumers.

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Interestingly, while older consumers are more likely to notice the ads, they are no more likely to spend time with the advertising that they notice than their younger brethren. Dwell time across age groups is remarkably consistent – and consistently short.

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Why might this be? You might argue that ‘digital natives’ have been online so long that they have developed a preternatural ability to avoid advertising. Maybe. But perhaps another reason is down to the sites they visit. Older consumers are more likely to spend time on newsbrand sites, which are well laid out and consumed slowly, giving the advertising they host the best possible chance of being seen. Younger consumers may be visiting sites for shorter bursts of activity, meaning that ads have shorter amounts of viewable time available to get viewed. And the sites they visit may not be as elegantly laid out as newsbrand sites.

So, while audience is important, context remains king.