The case for snappy creative

April 1, 2009 by Dave Haynes

I have seen some fascinating demos recently on Cognovision‘s audience counting software.

The technology is cool but what I was particularly struck by was what the analytics engine spits out about attention spans. Generally, people are looking at digital screens for a matter of 2.5-4 seconds, and in special circumstances, no more than double that. This is going on in an industry in which 15 seconds spots are the norm, and 30s are not all that unusual.

Something’s not fitting here.

And then up pops research today backing up the whole short attention span thing, and what’s to be done about it.

MediaBuyerPlanner reports TV viewers who use DVRs are 25% more likely to fast-forward through ads that don’t grab their interest within a few seconds than through ads that are engaging, according to a new study from TiVo and Innerscope.

The research, which looked at the propensity to fast-forward through ads depending on emotional engagement, shows that ad creative must be high “right out of the blocks,” says Carl Marci, CEO and co-founder of Innerscope (via AdAge). The study also found that, unsurprisingly, ads that remain creatively appealing throughout the ad retain audiences better: 25% of viewers are not likely to watch an entire ad if it loses their attention.

The study compared live biometric monitoring of emotional engagement with scores from TiVo’s StopWatch ratings service, which collects anonymous, second-by-second audience research data from 100,000 TiVo subscribers.Innerscope measured the emotional engagement of two groups of 20 viewers as they each viewed one hour of live content in real time with ads included. Viewers wore lightweight, wireless vests that monitor heart rate, breathing, skin sweat and motion.

Engagement scores for 55 national ads across both shows were then matched with TiVo’s StopWatch ratings service to compare when, and how many, viewers elected to fast-forward through an ad. When the two metrics were compared, the emotional engagement of Innerscope’s viewers correctly predicted whether, and how many, viewers would elect to fast forward at any given moment. 

So it is possible to hold on to people longer with great creative. But that’s for people whose butts are settled nicely on a sofa. My guess it’s different for people with one hand on a brat and the other on a shopping cart.

What I get from this: creative in most DS installs needs to be short, and it needs to pop pretty much right away. 


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