A study by the research firm Lumen indicates that ads adapted to the coronavirus situation draw people’s attention more than the pre-crisis norm.

This is according to a blog post on the company’s site, which details findings from an eye-tracking study of 150 UK-based respondents who were each sent a PDF version of the Metro newspaper to read at home.

“Of the 6 corona-related ads, the average time spent looking at the ad should have been 2.5 seconds. In fact, the average dwell time was 2.7 seconds, and increase of 9.4%. For the non-corona-related ads, the average dwell time per ad should have been 2.1 seconds. In this test, they achieved 2.0 seconds, a slight drop of 4.8%.”

While the results indicate an increased alertness to communications that help people to navigate the situation, there are other factors at play. For instance, one of the most successful ads was a full-page piece from the building society Nationwide, which pointed out how fraudsters were trying to exploit the situation.

Image: Lumen

“We would expect an ad of this size and in this location to generate 3.6 seconds of attention. In the end, it generated 5.1 seconds”.

The research forms part of a larger debate about how brands ought to respond, with questions surrounding the use or humour, or even the use of the words “COVID” or “Coronavirus” a genuine concern for marketers.

Since the beginning of the situation in Europe and the Americas, the prevalent media story has been of massively increased readership just at a time when – ironically – keyword blacklists were limiting the ads that could appear next to Coronavirus stories, just as every story was becoming a Coronavirus story. The implicit assumption is that audiences will be put on brands that appear next to such stories. But is there anything in this? 

Lumen asked its respondents what they thought of brands appearing around COVID-19 stories.

“By far the majority (55%) don’t care one way or another, but 41% claimed that it actually makes them feel better about the advertiser. One might assume this would be even stronger if the advertisers adapts their creative to respond sympathetically to the crisis.”

These findings suggest that some of the off-the peg options for automated brand safety settings are often based on flawed – or simply misunderstood – assumptions.

Sourced from Lumen Research