Twitter generates the most seconds when it comes to grabbing attention in the feed, which is key for driving mental availability and brand choice.
This was one of the key findings of Attention in the Feed, a new study from Twitter, Omnicom Media Group agency OMD, and leading attention researchers Amplified Intelligence.
Attention is gaining steam as a guiding principle and as a metric for media planning and measurement. This isn’t viewability. Attention measurement shows if an ad was actually looked at vs. just served.
The same ad performed differently depending on where it was seen. So the creative alone isn’t enough to determine outcomes, the environment matters. And ads perform within the boundaries of how platforms are used. This difference was around 2-3 seconds on average, but as high as 6 seconds was recorded - for where an ad generated the most attention vs. the leas
The research found an interplay between active (eyes on ad) and passive (eyes on screen) attention in social environments, which can deliver a positive impact on brand choice and brand preference.
We found that Twitter has a unique attention shape, with the strongest interplay between active and passive. Due to scrolling speeds that are 32% lower than other platforms, ads on Twitter are typically on screen for long
Twitter generates the highest total attention seconds overall (5.3). It also delivers the highest index for post-exposure brand choice and Mental Availability uplift, indicating that within feed environments where active attention is quick and fleeting, passive attention can deliver added impact by driving up total attention and time on screen for the ad. It increases the ‘opportunity to notice’.
Feeds by default, work on short bursts of attention – by design, the nature of the platform is to scroll and consume quickly. The study showed that in scrollable/swipeable formats, ad length is not related to attention seconds. Ads that were 6, 10, and 15 seconds earned the same level of active attention, while a 30-second ad only increased the active attention to ad length ratio by another 2 seconds. In feed formats, longer ads won’t translate to more attention, just more wastage.
When the ad is fit for feed, there’s a strong relationship to Mental Availability uplift after just one exposure.
For example, a 6-second ad for an FMCG brand delivering 2-4 attention seconds drove significant Mental Availability uplift, demonstrating that high-impact creative that refreshes memory structures works.
Here are three things that brands can do to ensure that their ads are effective, attention-grabbing, and planned with the feed in mind.
As well as shorter lengths, ads should be optimised for the in-feed experience. Lean into creative cues early that are proven to be effective such as persistent branding with an on-screen logo, colours or symbols related to the brand, early, and cut straight to humans – people are drawn to faces. In-feed isn’t a creative limitation. It’s a creative challenge.
Mental Availability is synonymous with attention; it’s the holy grail and correlates with brand growth and market share. Short bursts of attention are the norm across social platforms – lean into this. Refreshing memory structures with consistent high-impact ads will drive impact. See social as brand-building platforms over time.
Attention can be considered as a ‘shape’ of human viewing – this is not just how many seconds of attention but also how people are viewing. Even if the absolute number of active seconds is the same, one platform may be more oriented to drive brand choice while others drive mental availability due to its profile of attention shapes. These shapes inform attention-based media planning and buying – just buying the attention needed.
Karen Nelson-Field, Amplified Intelligence founder and CEO, said: “This work yet again showed us that all formats play a different role in driving impact for brands. It also added to the body of work around the need to move from attentive time to attentive shape and helped us understand the added value that passive attention brings to active attention.”
Jean-Paul Edwards, OMD Worldwide managing director, product, adds: “We need to shift our creative and measurement mindset away from completion of the ad, toward maintaining attention for the required duration – and we have to understand that passive is ok in the feed because it supports brand saliency over time.”
Twitter’s Head of Agency Research, Lisa Cowie, concludes: “In revealing the interplay between active and passive attention, this study gives us more knowledge on how Twitter and other social environments can be optimised for the attention opportunity. We’ve seen that Twitter is a high-attention platform in the context of social and delivers impact for brands.”
The study was presented as part of Advertising Week Europe, Attention in the Feed examines the interplay between active and passive attention across four environments (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok), based on more than 20,000 views by 4,000 respondents across UK, France, Canada, and Mexico. Respondents downloaded the privacy-compliant, opt-in Amplified Intelligence app that delivers test ads organically to their feeds, capturing eye gaze to measure active (eyes on ad) and passive (eyes on screen) attention. Following exposure, respondents were directed to a virtual store to measure the impact on brand choice/STAS (short-term advertising strength). Respondents also answered a survey designed to measure brand salience, also known as Mental Availability (the likelihood of a brand to come to mind during a purchase occasion).