Disney Advertising Sales teamed up with thought leaders across the industry through Publisher Alliance to share learnings and best practices on attention to provide actionable insights for advertisers.

Chris Barton, Executive Director, Advertiser Insights, Disney Advertising Sales, shares his perspective. Click here to access the full whitepaper.

Foundationally, we can all agree on a single point: When people pay attention to an ad, they are more likely to retain its messaging. However, the rapid change in platform consumption and options for content has made attention more of a commodity than ever before. Ideally, we want viewers’ full attention for the entirety of our creative. In reality, viewers are more often checking other screens, talking to other people, or clicking away as our ad is playing.

Our research suggests that ads can make an impact, even if viewed very briefly. A test utilizing eye gaze showed that nearly seven in ten respondents viewed an ad within a half a second of it appearing on-screen. Even if those viewers turn away quickly, that brief moment of attention can yield dividends if the viewer processes it. This fact is important to remember in the creative process. Advertisers can place key logos or copy strategically (e.g., early on or after impactful moments) to take advantage of short attention spans.

As producers experiment with new content lengths across platforms, it is also vital to understand the ad experience within and around those shows. We have ample evidence that longer ads generally outperform shorter ones for brand KPIs. However, viewers balk at seeing a thirty-second ad before a ten-second clip. So, is there value to having creative that fits the accompanying content if it doesn’t have the same impact?

The battle for attention is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, but there is some solace knowing that there are benefits to short or partial ad exposure


Recent studies with Latitude research and DISQO explored the impact of six-, fifteen-, and thirty-second spots in conjunction with Disney Entertainment, Sports, and News programming. The research showed that, in addition to higher viewability and completion rates, shorter ad lengths can pack a punch in terms of brand KPIs and actions taken. While the thirty-second spots were most effective when viewed in their entirety, the six-second spots drove 74% the ad recall of the thirties. The sixes also drove more action in some cases, especially among younger demographics. People 18-34 were nearly three times as likely to search for the brand after a six-second digital ad compared to a thirty-second one. Consequently, it is advantageous to consider ad length and sequencing in longer spots to take advantage of new types of content and partial viewership of ads.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have also seen the impact of longer creative. Recently an auto advertiser announced a new vehicle launch. They worked with Disney CreativeWorks to create three custom ninety-second spots tailored to each of the networks that aired on ABC, ESPN, and National Geographic. The excitement of the launch, coupled with the high-quality, cinematic ads, generated a tremendous response. According to EDO, a company that measures the incremental search volume driven by TV spots, the ads generated fifty-five times the search engagement as the brand’s competitive broadcast primetime spots! Those results suggest that what has been true in the past remains so today: ads that retain viewers’ attention for longer amounts of time are the most effective.

The battle for attention is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, but there is some solace knowing that there are benefits to short or partial ad exposure. Ultimately, the best campaigns will approach the creative process and media plan strategically. By understanding the marketing objective and distribution points, marketers can create ads relevant to the audiences. If the audiences find them engaging, they will pay attention. For the best advertisers, that is how the war is won.

Click here to access the full whitepaper.