Are you maximising the attention time of your ad campaigns?

Are you maximising the attention time of your ads? Find out why viewability is so important, and how to increase your attention time metrics. 

It doesn’t matter what products or services you are promoting, or what stage of your customer journey you are focusing on, every single programmatic ad needs the same thing: eyes on it. 

You can invest a healthy budget in producing ads, and running them in the best possible locations at optimum times, but if the right people don’t take enough notice of them, your investment will be wasted. 

This is something we take seriously at Crimtan, and we have been developing our own attention time metrics and tools over the past few years. 

In this article we explore the concepts of viewability and attention time, and share a case study that demonstrates how you can track the latter to improve your results. 

What is ‘viewability’?

Viewability is the term traditionally used for measuring whether your ad is in view. The current industry standard for viewability requires that at least 50% of an ad’s pixels must be in view for at least one continuous second. And for video ads, 50% of your player must be in view for at least two continuous seconds. 

To date, agencies and programmatic companies have been very reliant on this metric, using it as evidence that an ad was ‘seen’ by the target audience. 

However, while viewability is an important metric, it’s not the ONLY one you need to be measuring in order to ensure that people are paying attention to your ad, or even have actually viewed it. 

For example, your ad could be served on an open desktop browser, which would count as viewable. But the person who theoretically viewed your ad could have been browsing their phone, or turned away from the screen talking to someone at the time. In other words, just because your ad appears or runs on a device, doesn’t mean it’s actually been noticed.

This is where attention time comes in.

What is attention time?

Attention time is an analytical metric that assesses the ​length of time users spend with ​your advertisements. As opposed to viewability, which purely measures whether your ad is theoretically viewable, attention time tracks whether your ad has actually been noticed. 

Why is attention time important? 

It’s no secret that our attention span has been decreasing over the years. It’s even been suggested that our attention span today has dropped to just eight seconds – a reduction of almost 25% in just a few years. For comparison, a goldfish’s attention span is apparently nine seconds! 

All of which makes it more important, and challenging, to capture people’s attention today. 

Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, conducted research to investigate the success of attention time as a performance measurement metric. 

They discovered that ad campaigns that captured attention time achieved an average of 25% greater awareness. And the more attention time an ad gained, the more awareness it achieved. Campaigns that achieved attention time also achieved an average 79% increase in recall.

Kantar also learned that brands gain:

  • 11% additional awareness for every extra second of attention time achieved
  • 7% additional recall for every extra second of attention time
  • 0.2% extra click through rate for every extra second of attention time achieved
  • 22% higher viewability when optimising for attention time

Why is gaining attention time so challenging today?

So why is it so challenging today to capture attention time? Here are three key reasons: 

  1. You’re competing with a cluttered ecosystem: We are bombarded with information, media, content and ads today, all of which are vying for our limited attention. 
  2. People are busy multitasking: We rarely devote our attention solely to one thing. If we’re watching TV, there’s a good chance we’re also scrolling through our phone at the same time (or vice versa).
  3. We have reduced attention spans: Not only is there more competition for our attention, but we have less attention to actually give, thanks to our reduced attention spans.

How can you measure attention time?

So how can you track attention time when running ads? There are two key ways today: eye tracking technology and attention time metrics. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each. 

1) Eye tracking technology


  • Accuracy can be high  


  • It is hard to scale (it relies on a panel)
  • It has privacy issues and can be quite intrusive for everyday users

2) Attention time metrics


  • It’s easy to scale 
  • It’s not intrusive and has no privacy issues


  • It’s relatively new in the industry
  • There are different ways of measuring

How we measure attention time

At Crimtan, we rely on five important metrics to measure true attention time. Collectively, these five different metrics give us a more complete idea of creative performance:

  1. Viewability: Is this ad in view? This event is triggered the first time an ad unit is considered viewable.
  2. Time in view: How long is an ad in view? (The total time in milliseconds that the ad unit was in view for; the event’s value field will contain this.)
  3. Dwell time: How long did a user spend on the web page? (The total time the user had the page/window/tab in focus.)
  4. Interaction events: Did the user engage beyond an accidental click? This event is fired any time a behaviour assigned to a widget is triggered. This may be clicks or scrolls within the creative. 
  5. Interaction rate percentage: Behavioural events/by impressions. 

How attention time measurement works: a case study

To understand exactly how attention time measurement works, let’s look at a case study. 

The client for this campaign wanted to spread the message globally that Japan has something for everyone. The goal was to maximise interest in travelling to Japan by reaching users in 40 different countries with different passions, in a variety of languages.

Cube showed the highest viewability, the highest time in view, the highest engagement and the highest conversion. Video had the highest dwell time, and was second place for the format with the highest conversion metrics.

What was the influence of attention time on conversion rate?

When we split the influence percentage by attention time metrics, we could see that all metrics played a part in increasing site visits. Some metrics had higher influence than others (for example, engagement and creative dwell). This highlights the importance of going beyond just viewability and time in view.

What were the overall attention time results?

Here are the overall results for the campaign:

  • Viewability: We achieved 75% viewability. This event is triggered the first time an ad unit is considered viewable.
  • Time in view: We achieved 20 seconds. This was the total time that the ad unit was in view for.
  • Creative dwell: We achieved 3.2 seconds. This was the total time the user was dwelling over creatives.
  • Engagement rate: We achieved 1.50%. This is when a user has engaged with the ad by either initiating a click or hover. 

What were our recommendations to the client?

As a result of this campaign, we recommended the client continue to use creative formats such as scratch, cube and video in-camera. We also advised them to create more variations of the cube, as this was the top performing creative.  

Our recommendation was to remove static banners from their creative strategy to minimise wastage on poor performing ads, and concentrate on creatives that drove high engagement and creative dwell.

What did we learn about the correlation between attention time and site visits?

This campaign showed us that attention time metrics have a strong influence on whether the user will convert. 

Overall, attention time metrics make up 16% of the influence on whether a user visits a site. Combined with other factors, such as domain, creative and right location, we can start seeing a 57% influence on site conversions.

This suggests that attention time is not a silver bullet, but works in conjunction with other programmatic strategies to drive results. So optimising and measuring attention time is a key element contributing to your brand’s overall success.

Need help measuring and improving your attention time?

We know that optimising towards and measuring attention time improves the results of ad campaigns. Adding attention time measurement is a great solution in a post-cookie world and is futureproof (unlike eye tracking, which is likely to fall foul of future privacy tightening restrictions). 

Attention time is a non-intrusive and low-maintenance way to measure the success of your creative and campaigns. It can provide invaluable insights into how consumers are engaging with your creative, is the next step on from viewability and is an essential part of your campaign strategy.

If you would like to learn more about attention time, and how we can track and improve yours, please get in touch to speak to one of our experts and watch our webinar on-demand now.