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Study: Online Ads need to be Viewable for 14 Seconds to be Seen

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Viewable online ads typically receive 0.7 seconds gaze-time

Study reveals danger in optimising campaigns for viewability

Sydney, 30 March 2017 – An online ad needs to be on the screen for 14 seconds to have any chance of being looked at, according to a new study on the relationship between viewability, gaze time and people’s ability to remember ads.

The international study, which includes results specific to Australia, was conducted by InSkin Media, Research Now and Sticky. The research involved four companies, nearly 4,300 consumers, and technologies including eye-tracking by Sticky, and viewability measurement by Moat.

Viewable vs actually looked at

Eye-tracking reveals that 25% of ads defined as ‘viewable’ – i.e. meeting minimum industry guidelines of 50% of the pixels being on screen for least one second – are never looked at. One third achieve a gaze time (time spent actually looking at the ad) of less than a second, while only 42% are looked at for at least a second. The median time a viewable ad is actually gazed at is 0.7 seconds.

The study shows how long an ad needs to be viewable in the first place to hit certain levels of gaze time. On average, to be looked at for up to a second an ad needs to be viewable for 14 seconds. Ads achieving at least one second of gaze time are viewable for an average of 26 seconds. For at least two seconds gaze time the average viewability is 33 seconds, while for 3+ seconds gaze time, average viewability is 37 seconds.

Viewable vs Looked at

*E.g. the average viewable time for ads that were looked at for at least 1 second was 26 seconds

How gaze time differs by ad format

The time people spend looking at ads differs significantly across four key formats covered – led by Skins at 7.5 seconds down to Mrecs at 0.7 seconds.

Viewable vs Looked at

“Viewability is a vital first stage in campaign assessment, but we need to avoid the trap of mistaking it for a meaningful indicator of overall campaign success. Two further stages are crucial: whether the campaign was looked at, and what impact it had”, said Matt Newcomb, InSkin Media’s Australian GM. “The trend towards solely optimising against viewability can be counter-productive to maximising impact.  

“For example, smaller formats are more likely to hit viewability thresholds, but don’t garner much visual attention, so in effect, you’d be optimising towards low engagement and therefore low impact.”

How different formats compare

By combining visual engagement time and the frequency of visual attention, it was possible to generate a rationalised view of the volume of attention attracted by each format. When comparing the total Visual Attention Score of each format as part of a whole, Australian figures ranged from 69% for InSkin’s PageSkin Plus format, down to 6% for Mrecs.

These findings are aligned with UK data, which showed a Visual Attention Score of 72% for InSkin’s PageSkin Plus, and just 2% for Mrecs.

How Gaze time differs by ad format

“The results for the relative attention contributed by each format are highly encouraging for InSkin. Having solid data to support the assertion that larger, more creatively rich formats attract an increased share of attention is an important contribution to the industry discourse around digital measurement standards,” said Newcomb.

“Without formats that appeal to real-life, human eyeballs, a lot of the debate around media effectiveness becomes academic. Advertising, at its core, is a human medium. People need to be looking.”

For more information please contact Bold Media:

Tristan Tobin, Head of Content


M: 0401 556 006

Methodology The study comprised three key elements. Research Now surveyed 4,279 UK adults (aged 18+) online. Of these, 696 eye-tracking records were collected by Sticky using their webcam technology. During these browsing sessions, Moat’s technology tracked the viewability of ads. The study used a monadic cell design, testing four display ad formats.

About InSkin Media

InSkin Media is an advertising technology business, which develops and trades high-impact, non-intrusive brand advertising formats.

InSkin specialises in multi-screen, rich-media display advertising, partners with 190 publishers, works with over 1,000 blue-chip brand clients and delivers campaigns to more than 1,000 premium websites, globally.

Since its launch in the UK in 2009, InSkin has grown from start-up into profitable, international business, employing 110 staff across its London, Hamburg, Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai offices.

The company’s expansion across Europe, APAC and MENA has been recognised by multiple high-growth awards. InSkin was named as a National Champion in the European Business Awards 2016/17, and has featured in The Sunday Times Tech Track 100, the Media Momentum Awards, and the Deloitte Technology Fast 500. InSkin’s commercial success is built on our focus on technology, creativity, and superior quality in display advertising.

About Research Now

Research Now Group, Inc., is the global leader in digital data collection to power analytics and insights. It enables confident, data driven decision making for its 3,700 market research, consulting, media, and corporate clients through access to millions of deeply profiled business professionals and consumers. The company has provided high quality, proprietary, research only online panel sample since 2001, and currently operates in over 40 countries from more than 20 offices around the globe with locations in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Research Now is recognised as the quality, scale, and customer satisfaction leader in the market research industry.

About Sticky

Sticky is a leading behavioural and predictive marketing solution, measuring the world visually. With Sticky’s flagship platform, campaigns can be optimized using a variety of biometric data layers including eye tracking and emotion recognition. Sticky’s disruptive technology helps publishers, brand advertisers, and digital agencies optimize their content initiatives at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional methods. To learn more, follow @stickyai, visit, or contact

Find out more about InSkin Media:






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