Consumers have learned to tune out most digital display advertising but new UK research suggests that the use of high-impact formats can also boost the performance of standard formats.

For a couple of years, Lumen Research has been passively monitoring what people notice online and what they ignore in 500 UK households, using laptop-mounted, eye-tracking cameras that enable researchers to monitor where they are looking on screen.

This has shown that “people are really, really good at ignoring ads”, according to senior researcher Fiona Evans. At the recent Media Research Summit she demonstrated the point with reference to two examples of online banners ads: these were reported as being 90% and 82% viewable, but were only actually seen by 18% and 12% respectively.

Evans outlined three ways in which advertisers can increase the chances of their ads being seen: viewable time, format choice and site choice. (For more, read WARC’s report: British Gas and ‘the Wilbur effect’.)

“Not all formats get noticed at the same rate,” Evans noted. “The bigger the ad you buy, the more chance you’ve got of it being viewed.”

And now new research from Lumen and Inskin Media (using selected Mindshare campaigns ) – a large-scale audience eye-tracking study involving 3,160 eye-tracking experiments – suggests that there is a beneficial spin-off, as high-impact ad formats can help draw consumers’ eyes to standard formats for longer.

This attention boost, dubbed the ‘amplification effect’, has implications for campaign metrics such as brand recall, since users exposed to high-impact formats were found to look at the subsequent standard display ads for 39% longer. Similarly, the percentage of those standard display ads looked at for one second or longer increased by 140%.

“This piece of research has important implications for optimising digital impression distribution,” said Heather Williams, Account Director, Mindshare.

“These learnings have the potential to inform planning and buying strategies that will help realise maximum value and impact for our clients’ ad campaigns.”

Sourced from Inskin Media; additional content by WARC staff