12 Mar 2020

Phase One of the Not all Reach is Equal research tested cross platform performance against cut through via attention and memorability via product choice.

When looking at cut-through via attention, it was found that attention is affected by active or passive viewing and that sales do have a positive correlation with the amount of attention given.

In addition, for memorability (recall) determining product choice, Nelson-Field monitored short-term activation (i.e. sales uplift) and the impact this has on a product chosen for immediate sales.


While short-term sales activation increases on mobile, regardless of the advertising platform, all smaller screens receive a far greater amount of passive attention than active attention. It was found that the three biggest factors influencing attention across platforms were the percentage of the screen covered by the ad, the amount of pixels used and the length of time for which the ad was displayed.

Screen coverage was discovered to be crucial for attention and sales.  Nevertheless, most online ads are not viewed in full horizontal screen view on mobile devices.


While the agreed viewability standard for online ads is at 50% of pixels and 2 continuous seconds of display time (in that order), the research suggested this level is too low.  It suggested this fosters underperformance only allowing for passive viewing.

When time was added to the equation and the relationship between pixels, time, attention and sales was considered, there was found to be a material uplift in sales for ads above 50% pixels and 2 seconds long.

The study concluded that pixels mattered most in terms of ad effectiveness. 100% pixels always have twice the impact of 50% pixels, regardless of the time spent on screen.

In addition to this, as pixels approach their limit of possibility, coverage becomes even more vital. 100% pixels playing full screen, has a far greater impact than 100% pixels covering a smaller proportion of the screen.

Nelson-Field’s research strongly suggested that for significant increases in ad performance and effectiveness, brands should move the viewability standard of acceptance beyond 50% pixels 2 seconds. According to Nelson-Field, visibility is king, and brand owners should fight for pixels.

Cinema clearly leads in both catching and keeping our attention. Even if someone might be turning off their phone while a cinema ad is playing, it’s impossible for them to escape its message. This environment guarantees a captive and receptive audience and, for those in the cinema auditorium, visibility and ad completion rates hit 100%.

Click here to read about screen size and message retention duration

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