Dwell time is a relatively simple concept but one that looms large in current media debate. Is it a basic metric or a valuable indicator of consumer engagement? It has assumed greater importance as mobile and online media budgets have grown and is increasingly used as a parameter within programmatic buying systems. However, it has also always been used as a metric in other media. Does its meaning and understanding apply consistently across media? And with the growth of 'second-screening' and the explosion in consumers' exposure to advertising how can it best be used and how much weight should it be given within campaign evaluation and performance measurement?

Definition

A measurement of the duration of exposure to a media channel or specific media content.

Key insights:

1. Digital ad dwell time is higher in ‘quality’ contexts

Research has shown dwell time correlates strongly with ad recall, and that digital ad dwell time is on average half that of print ads. However, dwell time is higher in quality contexts, such as news brand The Times’ website. Eye-tracking research shows digital ads on news brand sites are 80% more likely to be viewed than on non-news brand sites. They are also noticed in roughly half the time and dwell time is twice as long. Reasons for this are: the longer time people spend browsing such sites versus more ‘mission-based’ sites; news brands’ approach of ‘fewer, better ads’ on a simpler and less cluttered site, creating more stand out; and for larger, more central and ‘in-feed’ units that fit the reader’s natural gaze.