BigFive Summit Sessions: The One Second Strategy (Video)

Mobile advertising is an unforgiving medium, as markets have only fractions of a second to capture a device user’s attention.

At the inaugural BigFive Summit in Cape Town, Sarah Utermark, the South Africa country manager for the Mobile Marketing Association, presented eye-tracking research detailing how mobile users interact with mobile advertising. The bottom line is that marketers have very little time to make an impression, an engagement must be earned. It cannot simply be bought.

Sarah argues that businesses must embrace the “One Second Strategy” approach to succeed in mobile marketing.

Sarah Utermark, Country Manager (South Africa) for the Mobile Marketing Association, presenting at the inaugural BigFive Summit

Sarah shared the five main takeaways from the research during her talk at the Summit.

No 1. Cognition is Fast

“It takes the human brain less than half a second to engage with mobile advertising and trigger a reaction,” Sarah said.

The chart below shows that 67% of subjects have already engaged with mobile ads at the 0.4-second mark.

No. 2 Time is Relative

“Ads in a mobile feed environment get attention faster and trigger a stronger cognition compared to desktop,” Sarah noted.

The data makes it clear that humans process mobile ads faster than desktop, which makes it important to design ads with this understanding in mind.

The chart below shows that more than 90% of mobile ads are seen in 2-3 seconds, vs about 60% of desktop ads, while cognition is much higher in mobile.

No. 3 Our Brain is Faster on Branding

Well known brands do not get attention any faster than lesser-known brands. But bigger brands do generate more of an emotional response.

This raises the stakes for well-known brands to produce good ads.

“If you create a negative response, it is very hard to win that customer back,” Saah said.

No. 4 Motion Drives Emotion

The research makes a strong case for using video on mobile ads to provoke more of a response in consumers.

While video and static ads generate a similar amount of attention, video ads on mobile drive an even stronger emotional responses than static ads.

No. 5 Weak Ads Work Fast & Fail Faster

There is a high price to be paid for producing poor quality or underperforming ads on mobile.

Weak ads actually produce a negative emotional response faster than strong ads produce a positive emotional response.

Final thoughts…

Sarah ended her talk with a checklist for producing ads that perform well in the fast and unforgiving mobile environment. For example, how colors, design, gaze direction, and visual elements can trigger a stronger positive response more quickly. “People grab attention. So do pets” Sarah noted, helpfully.

Anyone who wants access to the MMA study can send us a note at

You can download Sarah’s BigFive presentation here:

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