New Study Seeks to Determine When Consumers are Most Open to CTAs and Ads in Content


Wouldn’t it be helpful to know when your audience is most engaged with your content, and at what point you should present your CTAs to maximize desired reader response?

Nielsen and Taboola recently partnered on a new study to determine the ‘Moments of Next‘, the key points at which consumers are most responsive to different elements when consuming content, and what that means for marketers.

These are critical factors to take into account when putting together a content marketing campaign. The study starts out by looking at the ever-quoted ‘goldfish attention span’ numbers – i.e. humans have an eight-second attention span compared to a goldfish’s nine seconds.

Goldfish attention span graphic

Nielsen points this out as a reason why advertisers and publishers are now struggling to grab consumers’ attention, and keep them engaged. And that is indeed a struggle, however I’m not convinced the goldfish study is the reason.

If a human’s attention span has reduced to only eight seconds, that doesn’t explain the binge-watching phenomenon on Netflix, or the immersive video games played by people for hours at a time.

There are a range of other reasons why people lose focus on content – including poor copy, poor targeting, etc. However, regardless of the reasons, publishers and advertisers do, at times, struggle to grab consumers’ attention and keep them engaged.

Along that line, the Nielsen/Taboola study raises these key questions:

  • What if you could scientifically pinpoint the exact moment people’s attention is at its peak?
  • What if you could identify the very instant they’re ready and willing to see something new?”

These points, the study says, are “The Moments of Next.” This is more tightly defined as the moment in a consumer’s day when they’re open to look at new content, including native ad units and the content that sits behind them.

Knowing that there is a Moment of Next, and when it occurs, the researchers sought to answer these three questions:

  1. How do you capitalize on that moment?
  2. What exactly do people want to see?
  3. What do you serve consumers to keep them engaged?

The study specifically tested people’s attentiveness and emotional response to various content encounters, and it used AI and virtual reality to analyze unique eye measurements, in order to identify people’s reaction to the content. It looked at attentiveness and emotional responses across feeds (end of article experiences) and videos (Taboola vs. Facebook vs. YouTube).

One of the unique items in this work is the concept of cognitive load – the entire quantity of mental effort used by the working memory. The higher the cognitive load, the harder it is for a consumer to take in new content – however when cognitive load is low, it becomes easier for consumers.

The research shows that there’s an 8% lower cognitive load at the end of an article, thus making the consumer more likely to engage with a next action (or CTA) at the bottom of a piece. This is a Moment of Next.


Such insight can help to guide your strategic decisions, in regards to placement of CTAs and maximizing ad response.

Key Moment of Next Takeaways

  1. Participants were most open-minded after reading an article
  2. The Moment of Next usually occurs between 20 and 30 seconds of active content engagement
  3. Publishers, advertisers and all types of digital properties have a massive opportunity at the bottom of the article
  4. Continuous scroll feeds generate 20% more attentiveness, making post Moment of Next a perfect opportunity to deliver a next action at the end of a post
  5. Continuous scroll feeds generate a 17% higher emotional response, making post Moment of Next a perfect opportunity to deliver an emotional experience
  6. Videos presented in an infinite feed drove 25% higher attentiveness than YouTube pre-roll ads
  7. Video ads, when presented in an infinite feed at the Moment of Next, delivered a 13-23% greater emotional response than YouTube

The study provides definitive evidence of the value of below the fold space on content, specifically at the end of an article after it’s been read. This is prime real estate for brands to deliver calls to action, and for publishers to deliver advertising. This on-page space is where the Moment of Next occurs, and consumers are more likely to engage because their cognitive load is lower, their attentiveness is high and their emotional state is good.

As noted, this is key insight for content marketers to note – you can read more about the Moment of Next in the full study, which you can download here.

This article first appeared in

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