Are you wasting money on ineffective digital marketing ads?

New research has found that only 9% of digital adverts are viewed for more than a second, while much of brand’s hard work on digital marketing ads is not seen at all. Further research also suggests that brands could be wasting as much as £600 million a year collectively on unseen digital ads.

New findings by research company Lumen prove how ineffective at capturing web users’ attention some digital marketing can be. Researchers used laptop-mounted cameras specially designed to track eye movements of over 300 consumers, revealing what they notice and what they ignore when online.

The results of this visual data gathering exercise may surprise some brands, as it was found that only 44% of digital display ads received any attention from users at all. Of these, just 9% received more than a second of consumer’s attention, while 4% received more than two seconds.

What can marketers do to improve these stats?

The implications of this research for digital marketers and advertisers is twofold. First and most importantly, it may mean that a lot of their analytics data is skewed or inaccurate. Not all brands realise that a digital ‘impression’ – as tracked on many analytics tools and software – is counted by bodies such as the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) as one second of dwell time. Lumen is now calling for this to be reviewed, branding it as ‘ludicrous’ in the light of its data, covering at least 30,000 minutes of user online time and 15,000 digital ads.

In addition to the revelation that their ads may not be performing in quite the way they imagine, another crucial takeaway for digital marketers is that their ads are demonstrably not engaging enough to capture users’ attention. Many internet users experience ‘ad-blindness’, where there are so many ads and marketing campaigns targeted at them all the time that they simply stop noticing them. For your ad to stand out from all of this noise, it needs to be something really special.

Short of switching to print adverts, of which 40% receive more than a second’s attention compared to just 9% of digital ads, according to Lumen, what else can marketers do to capture more of their target market’s attention? Luckily, Lumen’s managing director Mike Follett, has some tips:

“The best digital ads do get looked at – but they tend to be simple, elegant, beautiful ads that a creative department would be proud of, rather than moving direct mail pieces,”

“When developing digital ads, creatives should ‘think like a poster’ rather than taking their cues from ‘performance marketers’, who have literally nothing to teach the advertising industry.”

Follett also suggests paying close attention to what he calls “attention economics”, where the best ads are short, snappy and in line with the average amount of time and attention web users are prepared to spend looking at ads.

Have you hit upon the winning formula for attention-grabbing digital ads, and do your analytics stat back it up? Please feel free to share your experiences.