A second. That is, according to Google, how long the average webshop has to load before people consider moving on.
Hardly more than the blink of an eye—literally. On average, it takes the average human eye somewhere around 400 milliseconds to blink.
This means a webshop gets somewhere between two–three blinks of an eye to load and catch your attention.
How long, then, does your ad get?
Less. Much less.
But take a look at these ads, they still succeed with catching your attention in that short amount of time
For one, Google’s numbers focus on people already in the market for something. Ads are often the polar opposite, appearing when people aren’t necessarily in a shopping state of mind.
Therefore, not only do your ads have barely the fraction of a blink of the eye to catch the viewer’s attention—once you manage to grab their attention, you better make sure you keep it.
But how do you do that?
Attention—The First Step in AIDA
Over the past decade or two, we’ve gone from dial-modems to high-speed fiber Internet.
Along the ride we’ve grown accustomed to an online universe where things happen at the fraction of a second (literally—see above).
On the one hand, this means your options for getting your ads and messaging across have multiplied exponentially.
But on the other hand, it also means the competition has never been fiercer—you’re competing against your competitors for ad space, competing against time for relevance, and last but not least, competing against the constant stream of the Internet for your customer’s attention.
DO: Make something worthy of attention
The first question you might want to ask yourself is not how (that comes second) but why—why and for what purpose do you want to grab the user’s attention?
Only when you have a purpose for grabbing their attention can you begin to make something worthy of their attention.
Remember, the thing you’re fighting against more than anything is all the other things the user could be spending their time on than interacting with your ad.
Make them prioritize your content.
DON’T: Disregard the user’s time
Grabbing the user’s attention without proper reason isn’t just disrespectful of their time; it also risks alienating (or worse, antagonizing) them.
Make sure you actually have something valuable (to them) to show once you’ve caught their attention.
Moreover, it’s important to straddle the line of expectation. Make sure they’re not to unwittingly subvert your audience’s expectations.
In other words, don’t make your ad too boring or too disturbing in a way that doesn’t match the ad itself.
DO: Deliver on your promises
The definition of clickbait is over-blown advertisement that doesn’t live up to its promises.
Clickbait isn’t clickbait, however, if the content actually delivers on what it promises.
Make sure your ads deliver on what they promise.
DON’T: Talk down to your audience
Hopefully, you would never do this, but it’s worth talking about – because sometimes people do it without noticing.
Simply put, your customers know a lot about you and your product. Acknowledge that, and don’t try to educate them on stuff they already know.
DO: Target your content as best possible
The ultimate and by far most effective way to grab someone’s attention is to talk to people who actually want to hear what you have to say.
If users aren’t watching or interacting with your ad, it’s usually because either you haven’t spent enough time on the design or you’re targeting the wrong demographic.
DON’T: Neglect the power of contrasts
When designing your ad, it’s not just important you consider what to include—how you present the elements you choose to include is just as important.
For instance, the user will generally notice: light before darkness, color before grayscale, sharp before blurry, large before small
items, and whitespace before clustered items.
Don’t make the important parts small, and the less important parts big. Be sure the user sees what you want them to see in the order you want them to see it.
DO: Prioritize elements over one another
In order to best grab your customers’s attention with your ad, you need to select what in your ad you want to direct most of their attention to.
What’s most important for each particular ad?
- The product?
- The brand?
- The message?
- The campaign?
- Something else?
The hierarchy will change depending on the goal(s) of the ad. Therefore your priorities should too.
There is no formula for what the most important part is, you just have to split-test your way to figure it out!
DON’T: Get too extreme
You want to stand out, and you want to prioritize some elements over others, but you also want to make sure you do overdo it.
Harmony is important—especially when you’re working with such a brief window of opportunity.
This is why it’s important to always balance elements such as:
Color theory, placement, amount of information shared, text vs. images, splashes, and so on.
Think of your ad as the night sky. You want it to shine, but if one star outshines all the others, that’s all people will notice.