Brands may need to find ways of engaging consumers in less than a second with their mobile ads, according to a new study led by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the industry body.

The MMA partnered with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), another trade group, and specialist research firm Neurons Inc. to “understand how consumers process information in a mobile environment.”

One key learning was that over 67% of the mobile ads tested in the study were “already seen and cognitively recognised” at 0.4 seconds, whether the impression left was a positive or negative one.

This time period compared to a figure of between two and three seconds for advertising on desktop, the study revealed. “Essentially, by the time a consumer blinks, their brain has already seen and processed a mobile ad,” it continued.

Another headline insight from the analysis was that cognitive and emotional processing worked more rapidly for mobile ads from “well-known” brands.

Elsewhere, video ads were discovered to be “twice as likely to create emotional response than static [ads] in faster exposure speeds in faster exposure speeds”, with this timeframe clocking in at less than 0.7 seconds.

Messages that were identified as having a “weak brand performance” only delivered negative motivation in the first second of consumer exposure, the study further revealed.

Looking forward, brand custodians that have built their careers on creating 15- or 30-second spots – or, more recently, ads in the six- to seven second range – may want to consider crafting “plans and strategies that address the first one second,” the MMA argued.

“Understanding the point at which cognition takes place gives marketers a real opportunity to better leverage our media and creative strategies,” Kristi Argyilan, an MMA board member and svp/marketing media and measurement at retailer Target, further asserted.

Tressie Lieberman, vp/digital marketing and off-premise at restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, also emphasised the need for a shift in thinking. “We have to develop a strategy that works for the first second,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

“That doesn’t mean the second second doesn’t matter either, but it’s really about immediately breaking through.”

Another recommendation made by the MMA was for more research to be conducted “to find value in inventory that is currently under” the existing one and two second viewability standards.

Scott McDonald, chief executive of the ARF, reported that this study was the first such project to be reviewed by its certification program, which aims to increase transparency and “truth” in advertising research.

“We really appreciate the MMA’s commitment to this level of transparency and being the pilot partner,” he said.

Sourced from MMA/Wall Street Journal; additional content by