Dwell time is an important digital signage metric, counting how long someone is in the vicinity of a particular screen. Many advertisement channels use dwell time to establish how long people are near ads and therefore how likely they are to see them. Dwell time in DOOH is useful as it helps establish a guide for the most optimal advertisement length.
The average dwell time varies from channel to channel (and for DOOH, location to location). Many channels aside from DOOH make use of dwell time in a similar manner. Due to the nature of these different channels, average dwell time will vary.
Channels That Use Dwell Time
The most common advertising platforms that use dwell time as an important metric are websites, social media, online video (YouTube, Twitch, Facebook), and DOOH. Most platforms that can measure dwell time do, but the emphasis and importance aren’t as high as on those platforms.
The average dwell time for websites varies a lot, depending on the type of website and the content that’s shown. An acceptable average is anywhere between 2 - 4 minutes. This means that advertising shares this time with content and has to be fully digestible within the set time.
The exact dwell time for social media on a platform-by-platform basis is widely unknown as sites keep this information private. What is known is that on average a user spends 145 minutes on social media per day. Whilst this seems like a long time, on a content-to-content basis users are quickly scrolling. The amount of time they spend looking at ads and campaigns is much much lower.
The ads that are shown on social media sites also vary from platform to platform. Some are “banner ads” and some are “skyscraper ads”, not to mention that different social media platforms encourage different interactive behaviour. A commonly agreed upon number for social media ads average dwell time is about 37 - 80 seconds.
DOOH & Dwell Time
The average dwell time for digital out-of-home advertising is hard to measure as people stand in different places for different amounts of time. What we do know is that 4.6 seconds is how long viewers will look at a screen before looking away. This is similar to online video advertising as users are able to skip ads after 5 seconds.
What this means is that marketers have 5 seconds to create content that will grab the attention of viewers. Advertisements should be around 30 seconds long, but those first 5 are clearly the most impactful and important.
To keep viewers engaged past that initially 5-second burst, marketers should look to borrow successful elements from other advertising methods. Common things to take from websites and video ads are improving “stickiness”, using infographics/informative creatives, and providing a call-to-action (CTA).
Stickiness refers to encouraging viewers to stay for as long as possible. There are many different ways to achieve an increase in stickiness and the most common have been adopted from websites. Things like motion, animation, or video, along with relevant, useful content are surefire ways to get viewers to stop and take in the messaging. Making the viewer do a double-take and look twice, along with CTA’s has also been proven to increase dwell time.
Tracking dwell time for digital signage locations used to be hard and was often unreliable. Thanks to improvements in technology this is no longer the case and many providers can easily provide these numbers. This has been achieved by including cameras that record how long people observe a screen as an internal attachment. (The data these cameras collect is anonymised and inaccessible meaning it can’t be used to identify anyone).
Important Notes About Dwell Time
Dwell time alone can’t be used as a metric for digital signage success, the more metrics the better. To read more about digital signage metrics check out our article “Understanding DOOH Metrics”.
Different types of digital signage will inevitably vary in dwell time, for example, roadside billboards compared to street furniture.
The answer to the question of “how long should content be on screen” isn’t easy to answer. There are many different aspects and each piece of content will be different. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your content is long enough to grab viewers attention and be able to achieve the CTA or absorb all the information presented.
Note that the length of loops and slots also needs to be considered when purchasing digital signage inventory. Contact your provider for more details in that regard.
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