The Media Research Council says 50% of an ad has to be showing and visible for at least one second to count as an impression.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is looking to update its viewable impression stat to say the ad must be visible on the page for at least one second.  In other words, it must show up and not be counted just when the ad is served.

Group M, one of the world’s largest advertisers recently said all digital ad deals must include the ad being visible on the page (showing on screen, not “below the fold” or having to scroll down to see it) for at least one second for them to count.

So just about any way you want to count it, the one-second mark is the key.

With that in mind, how long does an ad really need to be visible on screen to get a one second view?

An online ad needs to be on the screen for 14 seconds to have any chance of being looked at, according to a study done by InSkin Media, Research Now, and Sticky.

Sticky does a lot of eye-tracking research to determine where people look when they view a page and how long.  In a survey of some 4,300 people, eye-tracking revealed that 25% of ads defined as viewable are never looked at. Let that sink in for a second:  25% of all the ads that are counted as viewable… are never viewed by anyone.

The study shows that 1/3rd achieve a “gaze time” (time spent looking at the ad) of less than a second.  42% are looked at for at least a second.

The median time a viewable ad is gazed at is 0.7 seconds.



Because of the way people look at websites, the ad needs to be shown and visible for much longer than a second in order to get people to see it for even a second.

The study determined how long an ad needs to be viewable in the first place to hit certain levels of gaze time. On average, to be looked at for up to a second an ad needs to be viewable for 14 seconds.

Ads achieving at least one second of gaze time are viewable for an average of 26 seconds. For at least two seconds gaze time the average viewability is 33 seconds, while for 3+ seconds gaze time, average viewability is 37 seconds.