A study of interactive video ads on mobile phones shows those with a call to action (CTA) generate the highest response from consumers – but to optimize that response advertisers need to tell viewers what to do in the first five seconds.

According to The Interactive Ad Effect: CTAs in Mobile Video Shoppable Ads” published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and its Digital Video Center of Excellence, interactive ads with a call to action (CTA) get greater user attention, and consumers respond by giving more thought and attention to the messaging.

Analysts tested three separate CTAs on interactive shoppable ads across four different verticals with 70 subjects in Austin and Chicago and found that all CTAs were effective in capturing attention.

But those with a “learn more” message drew the best response and highest recall. “Learn more” messaging was significantly more effective than exposing consumers to “shop now” messaging, researchers said.

The study found the first five seconds of interactive ads with CTAs gain the most attention, showing the need for advertisers to include their brand messaging early. And, generally, consumers liked ads that allowed them to buy a product directly through an ad.

“These findings indicate that customers note the ability to shop or learn more right from the onset,” said Sue Hogan, Senior Vice President, Research and Measurement, IAB.

“The great promise for shoppable ads, then, is not only the immediate ability to capture sales, but also in smart retargeting,” she added. “Retargeted ads would provide greater potential for brands to both convert to sales as well as to build direct relationships with consumers.”

Eric John, Deputy Director, IAB Digital Video Center of Excellence, added that “a brand’s first ‘handshake’ with a consumer should focus on letting them learn more about the product before transitioning to ‘shop now’ language”.

He advised advertisers to test and learn to understand what works best and why. “A data-driven approach is table stakes for effective creative innovation,” he said.

Researchers used three distinct methodologies: biometrics, to track physical arousal via heartbeat and perspiration – relating to attention and concentration; eye tracking, to measure how many people viewed the CTA, how long they looked, and how often; and a mid and post questionnaire, to capture aided and unaided recall and brand metrics.

Sourced from IAB: additional content by WARC staff