The first 5 seconds are the ones that count

Briljante adMarketers love to talk about their newest advertisements in which they integrated smart pay-offs and implicit messages. I am time and again amazed by advertisements that contain a high level of artistic creativity. I came across this billboard of an American company a few years ago; a brilliant creation!

However, are consumers aware of the message and the brand? Or are these brilliant creative advertisements actually not worth the money? Anno 2016, marketers are still discussing this topic. Time for me to share my vision in this column.

Media value is created within seconds

The ideal consumer takes his or her time to read an entire advertisement including the small letters and then think about it. The truth is, this ideal consumer does not exist. Over the years, I have attempted to find an answer to the following question: How much time do you, as a marketer, need to deliver your message? I used several publications and conducted my own research, and this is what I found. For instance, Dutch advertising guru Giep Franzen used the rule of 1 to 2 seconds for developing a new outdoor advertisement. Over the years I have gathered the most effective exposure times per medium type and the list is as follows:

Online Banners: 0.4 seconds
Outdoor advert: 1 to 2 seconds
Newspaper advert: 2 to 3 seconds
E-mail newsletters: 5 to 7 seconds
Webpage: 5 to 10 seconds

4 to 6 words per second

Blur cocacolaIn case you are a marketer, there is no need to get downhearted by the thought of your consumers only spending a good few seconds of attention to your advertisement. As a reassurance, we are able to observe brands through the periphery of the human eye. We do this by building brand structures, which leads to an increase in brand awareness. To clarity this, try the following test: do you recognize the brand displayed in the blurred photo on the right?

In order to be able to read letters/words, a “visual” fixation is needed. In other words, a short moment where the eye doesn’t move and focuses on a certain point. Knowing about this fixation time, marketers can hold on to the following simple rule: people read 4 to 6 words per second. When we hold on to this time, it gets easy to determine the number of words the key message should consist of. For outdoor advertising for example counts that you should not use more than 4 to 8 words. Therefore, make sure that the most important text fits into the maximum number of words. This is one of the easy things that you can check yourself.

CanonAdvertising: less is more

In the end you don’t have much time to deliver your message to a consumer. So don’t haphazardly go for a brilliant implicit message, because the consumer needs more time to process these messages. This advert by Canon is an example of such an implicit message advertisement. Suppose you only have two seconds to look at this advertisement, do you get its message?

The question every marketer should ask to him- or herself

I often see that marketers make the mistake to choose for creating an advertisement that is too visually creative or too implicit. This can affect the message transferring process of consumers. That is why I suggest that marketers should ask the following question to themselves: are my logo and pay-off clearly visible within the first few seconds? If you apply this trick, you’re headed towards a powerful creation.

Martin Leeflang

Martin Leeflang

CEO