Online Ads & the Attentive Goldfish


Over the years I’ve probably sat in a couple of hundred meetings while the where the creative agency suits talk clients through creative concepts. In almost all of them the storyboards for the digital ads are almost identical to the storyboards for TV.

Digital ad concepts are usually shown as a storyboarded MPU’s and are generally quite clever. We all sit there deliberating over choice of words and where logos should be on certain frames. Should the actor on frame 7 have the collar of his shirt buttoned or unbuttoned for different markets and was the overall tone right for the brand.

That’s all well and good for TV where ads last a defined number of seconds and everyone is reasonably comfortable with the fact that not all viewers time shift and fast forward or make cups of tea while the ad is being shown.

There is no defined number of seconds for an online banner. People aren’t forced to watch them and they mainly live on websites within content. Online ads needs to capture attention pretty quickly. I’ve always had a theory that the vast majority of online ads are too long; by the time the buttoned down shirt on frame 7 appears users have scrolled past. By the time the brand reveal happens, users are on another website and the moment is lost. If half of online ads are never seen; how many of the viewed ones seen got their point across?

I read this intelligent post on native ads today and the author states that the average attention span at the end of 2013 was 8 seconds. This is total attention span in normal life; the attention span is defined as “…the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted”

There are other great stats such as 17% of pages views are under 4 seconds and the average viewing time of an internet video.

My point is quite obvious so I won’t go on. If you made it this far then you have a better attention span then average. I was most happy to learn that having the attention span of a goldfish at 9 seconds is better than the human average so I won’t be so hard on myself in meetings from now on.

About alan king

I have been learning digital media since 2000. All thoughts are my own and have nothing to do with my company.
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