Do Certain Pod Positions Boost Your Ad's Attention?

Imagine you’ve crafted a brilliant TV ad. The question remains, is it well-positioned to engage your target audience?

At TVision, we know that media placement can be just as powerful as the strength of the creative itself. Time and time again, our person-level data shows that Attention varies dramatically across dayparts, networks, and programming. In fact, there are programs across all dayparts that deliver higher Attention, and usually at lower costs, than some Primetime spots. On the Customer Success Team, we began to wonder how other industry assumptions about ad placements hold up when considering how real people really engage with TV ads. The first of these assumptions was about pod position.

Do Expectations for Pod Position Engagement Really Match Reality?

Across our careers and in conversations with clients, we often hear that pod position performs like a horseshoe. That is to say the first and last positions in a commercial break capture the highest ad attention. Meanwhile, ads that air mid-pod see a dip. The traditionally coveted first-in-pod and last-in-pod even see premium pricing from time-to-time in events like the Super Bowl. But do they really capture more attention than the ads that air in between?

One of my favorite things about working at TVision is immersing myself in powerful engagement data available in our platform. So that’s exactly what I did. The Analytics team and I both began to look at how attention actually performs across the pod. Does the length of the pod or of the ad itself matter? What about different dayparts? Live TV vs. timeshifted? Different program genres or audience demographics? It turns out all these different factors can be critical components in capturing and keeping consumer attention, and old assumptions about how to position your creative for maximum engagement don’t always hold true.

To help marketers set their ads up for success, TVision has launched a three-part report series on Creative Attention, starting with this very topic. Here is a preview of some must-know insights from the first installment: How An Ad’s Pod Position Impacts Attention to Creative. Download the report for a deeper look, or continue reading for a few key takeaways.

The First Ad in the Pod Performs Best Across Both Linear & CTV

According to TVision data, ads that play first during the commercial break do, in fact, consistently command higher attention than those that air later in the same pod. This is especially true for linear TV, where first-in-pod placements average 5 percentage points higher for viewers who keep their eyes on the screen for two or more seconds.

What we found particularly striking was that despite all the importance placed on the last-in-pod position, it commands the lowest attention of all positions in linear—falling just below the mid-pod position.


Average Attention by Pod Position

First-in-pod CTV ads also average slightly higher attention; however, there, the benefit is less pronounced. This suggests that pod position does not have as much of a material impact on viewer attention in CTV as it has in linear. Furthermore, there is a slight uptick in people paying attention again for the last-in-pod position. This suggests that the attention of CTV viewers, who can more easily track the timing of the ad breaks, may time when they pay attention again when they know the ad pod ends.

It’s important to note that while streaming television allows viewers to be more deliberate with their programming selections, TVision data shows traditional linear viewing still typically secures higher levels of overall ad Attention vs. CTV with the lowest performing Linear pod position roughly equal to the highest in CTV.

To learn more about the difference in engagement across linear and CTV, check out our recent Upfront Planning Guide.

Ad Attention Is Highest Towards the End of the Show

The break during which an ad airs throughout the program also has an impact on viewer attention. In general, ad attention decreases slightly between the first third of the program and the second and then rises to its highest toward the end of the program.

% Attention Paid by Position of Ad Break in the Program:

  • Beginning: 36.1%
  • Middle: 36.0%
  • End: 36.6%

Ad Attention During Ad Breaks

One exception is longer programming (more than 70 minutes), which sees a gradual increase in ad attention throughout the program. Since some genres typically fall within certain program lengths, the bottom chart may hint at how program genres impact audience attention. We’ll investigate the role of program context further in our next Creative Attention Report.

Take Action: Find the Best Opportunities to Drive Attention

While ads that air first-in-pod or towards the end of the program typically command the highest attention, there are several other ways to ensure your ad engages viewers.

Many of our clients that optimize for Attention have dramatically improved the efficiency of their campaigns and driven real results. Take, for instance, a major household cleaning brand. This client wanted to maximize Attention from its fully committed Upfront advertising plan. They optimized their allocations using TVision’s TV Planning & Measurement solution to identify the dayparts and programs that delivered the highest Ad Attention within each channel. One month after optimizing their plan, the brand:

  • Optimized media and reduced their aCPM by over 8%
  • Improved their attentive CPM across 80% of Network/Dayparts
  • Reallocated $510K of “wasted investment” (i.e., impressions served to non-attentive individuals) to more attentive media
  • Is on track to receive $3.7M more value from their attentive impressions annually

The importance of this increased Attention cannot be understated. Since ads work best when people pay attention, factoring Attention into media plans and media valuations can help both buyers and sellers uncover value.

Get More Creative Attention Insights

These insights are just scratching the surface of what we explored. Want to learn more about how an ad’s pod position impacts Attention to creative? These insights and more are available in TVision's full Pod Position Report. Download it today, and stay tuned for the next installment in our Creative Attention Series.

Upfront Guide