Australians watch twice as many ads as they think they do: Google and Kantar research

Australians are watching twice as many ads as they think they do, according to new research from Google and Kantar.

The study involved participants wearing eye-tracking glasses which allowed researchers to track every time they looked at a TV, phone, laptop and tablet, which would show free to air TV, catch up TV, YouTube, and Facebook videos.

51% of the 2,808 ads and 741 minutes of footage had ‘eyes on screen’, which was double what participants self-reported as the time they spent watching ads. But Google said that, even though people are watching more ads than they think they are, only half of the ads attracted eyeballs.

Only half of the ads shown in the study were watched

“While marketers and advertisers might be excited to learn people are watching more ads than thought, it also shows that sustained attention is something they need to work hard for,” Google Australia’s head of large customer marketing, Mark Wheeler, said.

“The lesson here is to ensure your advertising creative is clever and engaging, and that you’re using the right mix of media.”

Screen size is less important than where people are viewing and what they are watching, Wheeler added.

It’s the first time the new eye-tracking technology method – which involved 138 adult Australians and six New Zealanders wearing glasses by Eye Square as they went about their daily lives – has been used in Australia. Google’s YouTube performed well; 64% of the YouTube ad minutes captured by the study had eyeballs on them compared to 54% for broadcast video on demand ads, and 49% of free to air ads. 43% of YouTube viewers who participated in the study said they took their device with them while they performed other tasks.

Kantar’s executive director of media and digital, Mark Henning, said that, with the right creative in the right environment, viewers will pay attention to ads.

“Reach and exposure are important media measures, but they don’t tell the whole story,” Henning explained.

“Ads that are successful at gaining the attention of consumers – through great creative, and being viewed in the right environment, have the best chance of effectively impacting consumers.”


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