Online video ads get more attention

YuMe and IPG Media Lab, recently partnered on a research project to track relative attention level to video advertising in a lean forward PC experience vs. a lean back TV experience.  Specifically, we wanted to know:

  1. Do people pay attention to online video differently than they do when watching TV?
  2. If people have the option of avoiding advertising, will they, and how does it differ?
  3. If the experiences of watching TV and Online Video are different, should an online ad impression be valued the same way that TV ads are?

This trial was conducted in the LA Media lab, where we surreptitiously recorded people watching familiar video programming on a TV and a computer. We let them bring in anything they had previously indicated they use while watching video, such as a phone or magazine. If they had a DVR at home, we gave them a remote and access to a DVR pre-loaded with familiar shows. The point was to see how people really watch when they think they are alone and have access to food, their phones, laptops, IM programs or Facebook in other online browser pages, or any other normally used distraction.

Using facial tracking algorithms and biometric monitoring, we tracked whether people were paying attention to the screen and monitored,and looked for changes in cognition, excitement, and stress on a second-by-second basis. These data streams were matched to a single time-line that included what ads where seen when, then aggregated and analyzed to determine the effects of distraction. After they watched, we surveyed them immediately to find out what brands they could recall ads for unaided, also surveyed them via email the following day with an aided recall question, then finally compared ad recall to the attention scores to find any correlations between the two.



Not all distractions are equal

  1. The more distractions, the lower the ad attention was.
  2. The most corrosive distractions are analog, off-screen media such as magazines.
  3. Smart phone screens were the most common distraction media for both online and TV viewing.

Full attention from content to ad varies significantly on TV versus online:

  1. TV saw a 14.8% drop in attention from content to video ad vs. a 4.8% decrease for online.
  2. 63% of TV impressions were ignored vs. 45% for online video ads.
  3. Online video content gets 8.5% more attention than TV and online video ads have 18.3% more fully attentive viewers than TV ads
  4. TV viewers are exposed to nearly twice as many video ads, while online viewers have a near constant presence of banner ads.
  5. Attention is1.4x higher for TV “bugs” than TV video ads

Attention to Advertising Correlates Positively with Recall, Especially Online:

  1. Online ads have 1.8x the aided recall and 1.5x the unaided recall
  2. Men and women were just as likely to pay attention when online or watching TV, but women were more likely to correctly recall the ads.
  3. Ad Attention drops off with ad time on screen—the longer the ad or ad pod, the more likely the smartphone screen or other distraction was to be brought out.
  4. DVR ad fast-fowarders had high attention levels but low recall levels, while non-fast-forwarding TV watchers had both average ad attention levels and average ad recall.


  1. Ad fast-forwarding accounts for a sliver of wasted ad impressions compared to off-screen distractions
  2. Smart phones are a persistent companion to video content
  3. Online video ads tend to produce more attentive impressions
  4. The familiar cadence of TV content to ad pod and predictable length of ad pods likely responsible for increased drop-off during video ads compared to online
  5. Fast forwarded video ads get lots of attention but garner little recall
  6. The commercial “layer” gets more attention than the commercial break, but not recall
  7. The most-recalled ads tended to be short, immediately preceding or following engaging video content, and shown to non-fast-forwarders

Please click here if you would like more information on Media Trials.