How to Capture Consumer Attention & Improve Online Ad Performance

Digital Marketers should adopt new media metrics & sources to get attention & drive consumer actions

In all forms of advertising, consumer attention is what marketers are hoping to acquire when they buy an ad. Regardless of the campaign goal, consumers must pay attention to an ad in order for that ad to influence their behavior and lead to a conversion. When digital media was born, we shifted from purely reach- and frequency-based KPIs in favor of the ad click or CTR. This shift occurred because the CTR offered the first immediate feedback loop between consumer and advertiser.

After 15 years of obsessing over CTRs, ad verification technology emerged in the late aughts, shedding light onto the quality of an ad impression. Since then, the dominance of CTR in digital media has dwindled as marketers placed more value and scrutiny on qualitative metrics like viewability, brand safety, and invalid traffic rates.

But this approach is still missing the mark. After all, what good is a 90% viewable ad shown to a real human on a top-tier site if the person doesn’t pay any attention to it? In fact, they probably won’t, as a study from research firm Lumen has shown. Using eye-tracking cameras mounted on laptops, Lumen determined that only 35% of digital display ads received any views at all, and only 9% of ads received more than one second of consumer attention. The fact remains that banner blindness impacts even the most viewable of ads.

While we won’t be leveraging eye-tracking cameras to optimize digital ads—this isn’t The Minority Report—there are new metrics that marketers should adopt to help them capture more consumer attention to improve performance. In a recent report from media measurement firm Moat, these new ad quality metrics are linked to stronger bottom-line campaign performance. Moat partnered with a financial services client to help them understand why certain ads and placements performed better when it came to campaign conversions.

After analyzing conversion data and Moat data for ad quality, it was determined that conversion performance exceeded benchmarks when campaign delivery was optimized against these three metrics:

  • Fully on-screen for 1 second: Percentage of impressions where the ad surface was 100% on-screen for at least on second continuously; Benchmark: 48.2%
  • Screen real estate: The ad size relative to the screen’s size. The larger the ad size relative to the screen where it appears, i.e. the fewer elements it’s competing with for a viewer’s attention; Benchmark: 8.2%
  • Universal Interaction Rate: The percentage of impressions where a user’s cursor entered the frame of an ad and remained active for at least 0.5 seconds. This is an indication of how much engagement the ad commanded from a user; Benchmark: 3.3%

Previous Moat analysis has also shown a positive correlation between time spent with an ad and likelihood of responding positively to the brand, whether the goal is awareness, consideration, or purchase.

But this still doesn’t answer the question of how marketers should utilize these new metrics. Sure, optimizing against them can help a bit, but that doesn’t change the fact that the vast majority of programmatic inventory is homogenous across publishers. Go to any sampling of publishers and you’re likely to see the same few ad sizes in the same few locations on the page—all rendering simultaneously with the publisher’s content. Content, by the way, is the driving force behind pageviews. With content as king and online users increasingly “blind” to industry standard ad-sizes like banners, it’s a David vs. Goliath battle to get consumer attention for impressions. To make significant strides in capturing potential customerconsumer attention, marketers will need to activate new, highly-engaging ad formats.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Wunderkind’s post-content ads are uniquely positioned to alleviate this common pain point because they’re triggered when a user is finished or disengaged with publisher content—such as moving their cursor to the URL bar or scrolling to the end of an article. These ad experiences don’t distract the consumer from publisher content—appearing instead once the consumer is done reading. These non-intrusive ad experiences, in addition to being well-timed, provide advertisers with 300% more screen real estate and 357% greater ad engagement rate vs. Moat’s benchmarks. Wunderkind ads also outperform standards for viewability with invalid traffic rates 43% below benchmarks set by Moat.

Following Moat’s lead, Wunderkind conducted post-campaign analyses of three different client campaigns with varying KPIs: brand awareness, online conversions, and offline store visits. All campaigns were optimized against typical metrics such as viewability or CTR and then compared against Moat data  post-campaign. The results are in-line with Moat’s findings:

Oral Care Client
A recent oral care brand came to Wunderkind to support a new product launch with the goal of raising brand awareness:

  • Screen Real Estate: +322% vs. benchmark
  • Universal Interaction Rate: +352% vs. benchmark
  • Universal Interaction Time: +43.7% vs. benchmark
  • Fully on-screen for 1 second: +23.6% vs. benchmark
  • Brand Awareness: +20% lift (statistically significant)*
  • Cost Per Lifted User: 90% more efficient than Google Preferred*
    *measured by Lucid

B2B Tech Client
A major B2B brand partnered with Wunderkind to support a lead generation effort. Wunderkind has been a “showstopper” for the client (their words) with excellent performance:

  • Screen Real Estate: +375% vs. benchmark
  • Universal Interaction Rate: +426% vs. benchmark
  • Universal Interaction Time: +175% vs. benchmark
  • Fully on-screen for 1 second: -6.6% vs. benchmark (attributed to high CTR)
  • Conversions: Over 30% of total campaign conversions were driven by
  • Wunderkind placements, lead to a campaign extension and tripling of budget.

Auto Client
A luxury auto client partnered with Wunderkind to drive foot traffic to dealers:

  • Screen Real Estate: +358% vs. benchmark
  • Universal Interaction Rate: +362% vs. benchmark
  • Universal Interaction Time: +25.2% vs. benchmark
  • Fully on-screen for 1 second: +26.3% vs. benchmark
  • Foot Traffic: +77% behavioral lift for 11,000 incremental dealership visits

As these metrics show, Wunderkind’s post-content ads outperform not just Moat benchmarks, but performance set by clients and research partners alike. As marketers continue to fight for consumer attention, adding a non-standard inventory source like Wunderkind is the surest way to drive meaningful impact. If you’d like to see how Wunderkind could help you meet, and exceed, Moat’s new industry benchmarks and drive sustained growth by advertising through owned channels, reach out to Wunderkind today.


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Kevin Waldrop

Kevin Waldrop is Director of Programmatic Demand for Wunderkind, formerly BounceX. In this role, Kevin is focused on growing Wunderkind’s programmatic partnerships with marketers & agencies in the Midwest. Kevin lives in Chicago, which he loves in the summer and regrets in the winter.