Want Viewers to Pay More Attention to Your Commercials? Study Reveals One Fairly Obvious Secret

Oct 12, 2018  •  Post A Comment

A new analysis of how much attention viewers pay to commercials came up with the not especially surprising conclusion that shorter commercials do better than longer ones.

“An iSpot.tv analysis of 37,854 TV commercials across 4.7 million TV ad airings, found that from the end of 2017 to early 2018, 10-second commercials earn an “attention” score of 91.0 to 91.5,” MediaPost reports. “By comparison, 30-second spots earned a 90.0 score.”

The report notes that the difference widens with 60-second commercials, which delivered a number of 88.0 to 88.5.

“In addition, iSpot.tv’s research said that shorter 10-second to 15-second spots grabbed the best ‘attention’ numbers when short-duration TV commercials were placed in the second position — or second to last — in a pod of commercials,” MediaPost reports, adding: “Longtime research showed that positives result from running 30-second commercials in the ‘A’ or first position in a commercial pod.”


  1. Here are the challenges I have with this study—at least from a TV promo perspective.
    First off, they are measuring attention—which I think is a great metric. But it leads to some problems.
    Their first point is “Shorter is better.” Of course it is easier to hold someone’s attention for a shorter period of time than a longer period of time! And if I am selling a well-known product that requires no introduction, no explanation, short works.
    In the TV promo world, an episodic for The Big Bang Theory only needs 10 seconds to sell. (Just enough time for one joke.) But National Geographic’s The Origin of the Universe is likely going to need a good 30 seconds or more to convert me. Which leads to their point…
    #2 Shorter is Better, but not Always. They admit category makes a difference. But I’d say you have to be more granular. Pizza Hut can sell me a pizza in 10 seconds, because I know that Pizza Hut sells pizza. But if they introduce barbecue to their menu, that’s going to take more time to explain. I’ve always believed a spot needs to be as long as it takes to sell the product.
    #3 Pod Position Boosts the Impact of Ad Length. They say A & Z have the lowest attention, while B & Y have the highest. I can potentially understand that for the A; it is in a transitional position. But more people watch the A position than the B. They tune out during or after the A. (And usually start coming back during the Y & Z.)
    I have to assume that their study does not take that into account the drop in viewership—for example, if only 90% of the people watching the A were attentive, but 95% of the people watching the B were attentive, that’s great, but not so valuable if 100,000 people watched the A, but only 90,000 watched the B.
    My assumption is that they are not accounting for actual number of eyeballs for each position.

    • All good points but I think you are thinking of you and there is a new group of consumers they want to target now.

  2. No, I’m thinking of people who watch linear TV.

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