Study: Only 9% of digital ads viewed for over a second

UK research company Lumen has bad news for digital advertisers: only nine percent of digital ads get more than a second’s viewing; only four percent get more than two seconds.

lumens research

The eye tracking research firm’s findings were based on 30,000 minutes of data collected from its research panel of 300 consumers since January this year. During this time, the panel was exposed to around 15,000 online ad impressions but less than half the ads (just 44%) were actually viewed.


IAB standards declare an ad as viewable if it is viewed for just one second. That less than 10% meet this low threshold is damning enough. But Lumen says that digital marketers can learn from print advertising where, on average, 40% of ads are looked at for a second or more.

Data from Lumen’s “pressomnibus” lab shows that a full-page in a tabloid newspaper will be viewed by 88% of readers for an average of 2.8 seconds. In comparison, a billboard format ad on a website will be viewed by 38% of visitors for an average of 1.5 seconds.

Why should you care?

According to Lumen Research MD Mike Follett, “Marketers don’t quite understand that just because an ad can be seen, doesn’t mean it has to be seen.” Speaking to Marketing Week, he added that “digital marketers must start to realise that building an ad that has a duration of more than 10 seconds is probably a waste of money.”

Lumen says that no only should digital ads be made for short viewing, but if they are to catch attention then the same creativity that goes into print ads needs to be applied.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.