Getting an unfair share of attention data in a mobile world

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Attention to advertising is limited, rare, and valuable – especially on mobile. Ads on mobile phones are harder to miss (78% of them get noticed, compared to only 17% for standard desktop ads), but they often get less attention than their desktop alternatives (1.0 seconds on average, compared to 1.5 for desktop).

What can you really say in a second? Not much.

So, what is a savvy marker to do? One answer is to radically simplify your creative so that it works in a second – a focus on distinctiveness rather than differentiation, you might say.

But another answer might be to buy media that generates sufficient time for you to deliver a message. Not all ads are created equal, after all. Some ads get more attention than others, even on mobile. You just have to know where to look.

We conducted a test using our new webcam eye tracking software to understand the relative impact of Inskin mobile formats vs normal mobile formats.

What we saw was that some formats are just easier to see and get seen for longer. As we said above, 79% of mobile ads get noticed, for about a second each. With Inskin mobile formats, 96% of people who could see the ad do actually look at it and dwell time on the ads is typically 4.0 seconds - more than enough time for you to get a brand message across.

If you’re a really savvy marketer, you can create a composite metric that combines the viewability rate (i.e. if the ads could be seen at all), the likelihood to see the ad if viewable and the dwell time with the ads to create ‘aggregate seconds per 1000 impressions’. This allows to you to calculate how much attention you get from 1000 normal mobile ads, given reality of viewability vs 1000 Inskin ads (which are only sold an 100% viewable basis).

When you do this, you can see the true value of buying decent media:

  • Normal mobile ads: 1000 ads x 0.55 (av. viewability) x 0.79 (av. likelihood to see) x 1.0 sec (dwell time with ad) = 434.5 sec of attention

  • Inskin mobile ads: 1000 ads x 1 (Inskin viewability = 100%) x 0.96 (av. likelihood to see) x 4.0 sec (dwell time with ad) = 3,840 sec of attention

Put another way, a thousand standard mobile ads will get you about 7 minutes of attention; a thousand Inskin mobile ads will get you 64 min of attention. You do the math.

You can find out more about the research here. Or, if you prefer it in German (and let’s face it, who doesn’t prefer it in German?) have a look at this.

And if you want to see how you can get an unfair share of attention, you can get in touch here.

Wouldn’t you like your advertising to be ‘intelligent’?


New research from our friends at Inskin Media suggests that you can get a bigger bang for your buck by using ‘intelligent’ flighting strategies.

As we discussed last week, you are far more likely to notice an ad if you have previously looked at a similar ad. Advertisers can make use of this ‘priming effect’ by starting their campaign with big, bold advertising, which will then amplify the effects of standard advertising. Such ‘intelligent flighting strategies’ can dramatically increase the reach and recall of your campaign, meaning that 3 + 1 = 5 or 6.

Clever thinking.

How to make your attention take flight

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Notice something once and then you start seeing it everywhere. It’s the same with ads. We did some research recently with Inskin to understand the priming effect of noticing one ad from a campaign and then seeing how much more likely you are to engage with subsequent ads from the same campaign.

Inskin formats are very noticeable, and so have a big impact on the attention that subsequent ads receive. MPUs that are preceded by an Inskin Pageskin receive 87% more attention than the same ads that are preceded by just a simple MPU. Read all about it here.

But you can go further, because it isn’t just a one-off phenomenon. It’s all about frequency and flighting. You could start the week with a nice big Pageskin, and then see the effects on subsequent ads over the course of the next few days. But you could take a leaf out of the TV buyers play book, and front load your campaign with a whole load of big, beautiful rich media ads to build up an ‘attention stock’ that amplifies the effects of subsequent ads for weeks to come. Inskin call it ‘flighting for success’.

The sky is the limit!

Lumen voted one of the top 50 market research technologies in the world


Lumen has been voted one of the top 50 market research technologies in the world according to the GRIT report 2019. This is an amazing achievement and testament to the hard work and creativeness of the whole Lumen team. Our world-leading eye tracking technology powers ad testing solutions, media valuation tools, retailer optimisation systems and now, of course, mobile testing.

It’s also testament to the intelligence and inventiveness of our clients, who have come to us with interesting problems and a collaborative spirit that has supported innovation. Last year, GRIT highlighted how 58% of insight professionals are considering using eye tracking. Thanks to that interest, we’ve be able to develop a wide range of products for our clients.

This year’s GRIT report describes a market research industry in flux - what Mike Stevens calls a ‘Cambrian Explosion’ of research tech. Techniques that were once only available to the largest brands with the biggest budgets are being democratised and made available to everyone. Scalable, insightful methodologies such as Lumen’s eye tracking can be built into any study platform, ensuring that we can all know what people actually see, not just what they say they see. 

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David Bassett is the head of analytics here at Lumen, and has led our recent Rules of Attention project for the IAB.

He was recently interviewed by the great Richard Marks of Research the Media for the asi podcast, offering his take on the importance of quality over quantity in media buying: 24 minutes of wisdom.

David will be speaking about the project and its implications for publishers and advertisers at the asi conference in Portugal in September. Book your tickets today.

5 rules of attention success, according to the IAB

Attention to online advertising is a numbers game. Every time someone is exposed to an ad there’s a chance that they might look at it – but there’s also a chance that they might ignore it. So, how do you give your ads the best chance of being noticed and remembered?

This was the question that the IAB UK asked us and our friends at IPSOS MORI to investigate. And together, we have developed five rules of attention success to guide your digital marketing. The findings, published this week, offer practical help to advertisers and publishers alike:  

1)      Attention to content drives attention to ads: sites that generate lots of attention to the content also generate lots of attention for the advertising. Buy ads on well read sites rather than sites where visitors are in and out quickly. 

2)      Think about location: ads that are in line with content get more attention than ads that are on the side. And there is ‘gold beneath the fold’: ads that are nestled in the content, rather than at the top of the page, get more attention.

3)      Clean up clutter: you can have lots of ads on a page, but they need to be served one at a time. More than two ads firing at the same time means that there’s a chance that people will look at neither.

4)      Tap into smart targeting: relevant ads can get up to 107% more attention - and are six times more likely to be remembered.

5)      Be creatively fit for purpose: ads that have been optimised for mobile are 89% more likely to be noticed, and 37% more likely to be remembered. 

You can learn the full story here, or read Tim Elkington’s article about the project on WARC – or even listen to our very own David Bassett talk about the findings on the asi podcast.

If you would like us to come in and give you a face to face debrief of these important learnings, get in touch.

How much better is mobile than desktop?


How much attention does mobile advertising really receive? And how does this compare to desktop? Mary Meeker would tell us that you should place your ads on the devices that people use the most, and people use their phones a lot. But what are you getting when you buy a mobile ad?

In the last six months, Lumen has developed some revolutionary technology that can help us understand the difference. Our new webcam eye tracking software allows us to do large-scale eye tracking projects on live websites on mobile phones. You can test and optimise your mobile ads, in context, anywhere in the world, amongst statistically significant samples.

And the learnings you can get are fascinating. It turns out that mobile ads get roughly three and a half times more ‘attention seconds’ than desktop ads.

But they get attention in a very particular way, with major implications for advertisers.

‘Attention seconds’ are a combination of two factors: did anyone see the ad at all, and how long did they look at it for? If 50% of people notice a viewable ad for on average 1 second, then you get 500 seconds of attention for every 1000 viewable impressions that you buy. 30% noticing an ad for 2 seconds will get you 600 seconds from every 1000 viewable impressions and so on. Getting noticed at all is important, but dwell time with the ad is also vital.

Our research suggests that mobile ads are very good at being noticed – 78% get seen in some way, which compares to just 17% for desktop. But they get looked at for slightly less time on average: 1.0 second, rather than 1.5 seconds for desktop.

When you, multiply the percentage who notice the ad by the average time they spend actually looking at the ad to create the ‘attention seconds per 000 impressions’ you see that mobile ads are so much more noticeable that in aggregate, a thousand impressions will get you 7.2 minutes of attention, whereas desktop ads will only get you 2.1 minutes of attention.


Another way of saying the same thing is to look at the ‘attention curves’ of the two media. Yes, mobile ads are much more noticeable, but the decay in the attention curve shows that the vast majority of the ads get less than a second of attention. The decay in the curve for desktop ads is less pronounced, meaning that if people notice the ads at all they stay with them for a bit longer.


Now, averages hide as much as they reveal. Many of the mobile formats that we have picked up in our studies are tiny, whereas some of the desktop formats are huge. Luckily, there are formats that are common to both devices such as MPUs. When you compare like with like, the results give a clear view of the impact of device. 1000 MPUs on desktop is likely to get you 2.0 minutes of attention in total. 1000 MPUs on mobile is likely to get you 8.8 minutes in total, an increase of 4.5 times.


Our research suggests that mobile advertising is great at getting at least some attention. This stands to reason: the ads often fill the screen, and you have to scroll pass them to get to the next bit of content. But it also suggests that many people are scrolling so fast that they are barely looking at the ads at all. They pass in a blur – glanced at, rather than fully consumed.

The implications for advertisers are profound.

Mobile is a great way to get noticed, and the money that is going into the channel is not wasted. A pound or dollar spent on mobile is probably better spent than on desktop.

But you have to get the creative right. Attention budgets on mobile seem to be even shorter than they are for desktop. We often tell our clients that they have to ‘think like a poster’ and design digital ads that can be consumed quickly and efficiently. That seems to be doubly true on mobile.

Or, you have to buy some attention. Some sites, and some formats, are simply better than getting noticed than others. Buying big bold formats, and filling them with big bold creative, is probably the best way to deliver against the promise of mobile.

And- shameless plug - we can help you do both at Lumen.

Join us for a world first: eye tracking for mobile

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There’s still time to get your tickets to this year’s MADfest Picnic, which should be fun. The agenda looks excellent, with people like Holly Tucker, founder of Not on the High Street and Russell Davies, who is now CMO of Bulb, sharing their wisdom.

But, great as they are, no one will be showing any revolutionary technology. Except, of course, Lumen. Because, if you go down to the woods at say, 12 o’clock or so, you’ll see the world mobile webcam eye tracking results, which we have completed with the help of our friends at Inskin.

Doing eye tracking on mobile phones is HARD. The space is small. People wobble their heads and wiggle their hands. Mobile apps are tricky to read. But we’ve done it. And we’re getting some really interesting data from the technology.

Come along on Wednesday to understand if mobile ads get more or less attention than desktop ads, or if there are greater or lesser ‘amplification’ effects from rich media ads on phones or computers.

Or come along to drink our beer and enjoy the sun. The weather forecast looks good.

ICYMI: Lumen helps Mediacom and British Gas win at Campaign Tech Awards

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Congratulations to our friends at Mediacom and British Gas. In case you missed it they won top prize for Most Effective Use of Programmatic Media at the Campaign Tech Awards for the way they applied Lumen’s attention data to recent campaigns.

The award entry summary neatly captures the value proposition:

Everyone knows that neither click rate nor ad engagement correlate to business outcomes, but in the absence of more meaningful metrics many advertisers slip back into optimising to them. Surely there was a better way? We partnered with eye tracking research company Lumen to link impressions with high attention with sales. Using Lumen’s Attention Model analytics, we optimised to placements forecast to have high attention.

The high attention ads were 56% more expensive, however there was a 240% lift in conversions – a premium well worth paying and a meaningful model we can use in the future!


Lumen’s data is now fully integrated into Avocet, the innovation DSP, so anyone can access the insight that won British Gas and Mediacom this coveted award.

Mary Meeker: Time spent ≠ attention

Note to Mary Meeker: time spent with a medium does NOT equal time spent with advertising on that medium

Mary Meeker’s latest exhaustive and exhausting Internet Trends report is out. As ever, it is packed with interesting and important information. As ever, one slide stands out as egregiously simplistic: the time spent with media vs the ad spend on that media.

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This year, the story is one of market sanity: people in the US spend roughly 18% of their media time on desktops and 33% of it on mobile phones, and hey, guess what? Advertisers spend roughly 18% of the budgets on desktop ads, and 33% mobile advertising. This is compared 2010, when time spent/media spend was seriously out of kilter. Looks like someone has been listening to Mary Meeker.

(And let’s be honest, folks, someone HAS been listening to Mary Meeker. Her insights and her report have genuinely moved the market over the last few years, and she has done a brilliant job of highlighting interesting opportunities).

But according to this analysis, print spend still looks overweight, and where is Cinema and OOH? You can bet that, compared to time spent with the media, investment is over egged.

Is the market really so irrational? Why do brands keep on ploughing money into these media even if people aren’t spending lots of time there?

This is because not all ads are created equal. People are very good at avoiding advertising, and ads on some media are simply easier to ignore than ads on other media. People might spend a lot of time on desktops, but advertising on desktops is much easier to ignore than ads on mobile, or TV. People might not read newspapers as much as they used to, but when they do, they notice the ads far more frequently, and spend much more time with them, than they do with digital media.

Over the last 6 years, we at Lumen Research have conducted hundreds of eye tracking projects to understand the reality of attention to advertising across media. For the last 3 years, we’ve been running the world’s first passive eye tracking panel: hundreds of consumers are paid to install a small eye tracking camera onto their home laptop computers which tracks everything they notice – and crucially, everything they ignore – when they go on line.

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When you look at our data in aggregate, you notice an interesting and important fact: just because you can see an ad does not mean that you will see it. Even ‘viewable’ advertising isn’t always ‘viewed’. The ‘attention gap’ between viewable and viewed advertising varies wildly between media. Only 20% of viewable desktop display ads actually get viewed. Mobile ads are far harder to ignore: about 60% of them are actually seen. But Print and OOH ads are far more visible: between 70% and 80% of viewable print and OOH ads actually get noticed. Pre-roll advertising on desktop is unique in that almost everyone who can see it, does see it. Our friends at TVision have some interesting complementary data on this subject when it comes to TV advertising.

Secondly, the eyes-on dwell time with all forms of advertising are much shorter than you might imagine. The average time that people actually spend looking at a desktop display ad is 1.3 seconds; with a mobile ad, it’s about 1.5 seconds; 1.7 for a poster; 2.1 for the average print ad; and a whopping 9 seconds with a pre-roll ad on desktop. Already, you can see that the effective reach and the effective dwell time with ads in different media is radically different.

Thirdly, you can see that the dwell time averages are not based on a normal distribution, but are skewed to one end: most people just glance at most ads, though once in a while an ad will really capture your attention and you’ll spent 3-4 seconds with it. This happens far more frequently with print and posters than it does with digital and mobile.

We can begin to understand that media buyers might not be mad after all. Advertisers ‘over invest’ in print (and out-of-home) because people ‘over invest’ their time in advertising on these media. In fact, it may be that the true learning to be taken from Ms Meeker’s charts is not that the market has reached equilibrium in digital ad spend, but that we are spending too much on digital channels given the relative ‘weakness’ of ads on these media.

If you were to buy 1000 viewable impressions across different media, and then take into account how likely it is that each ad gets noticed at all, and then how long it is likely to be actually looked at, how many minutes of actual attention to advertising would each medium produce? Our analysis suggests that you would get 2.5 minutes of attention from 1000 desktop display ads. You’d get twice that for mobile ads, which are that much harder to ignore. But you would get 10 times that for 1000 print ads. And you would get 50 times that investing in desktop pre-roll.

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Advertisers don’t care if people could see their ads. They care that people did see their ads. Some media are just better than others at converting the potential for attention into actual eyeballs on ads. This is what drives business results, and this is what should be driving investment levels. Perhaps there’s method in this market madness after all?