How To Measure If Your YouTube Ad Breaks Through The Clutter

March 15, 2024
It is an attention heatmap of a YouTube page

So you’ve probably heard some dubious quotes that say that consumers are exposed to thousands of ads every day, and the number of ads they see are growing rapidly, and so on. Well, this is only somewhat true. We are indeed seeing more ads per day than we used to, but it turns out the real number is much closer, around 100 ads per day, give or take. However, the real challenge these days is competing for the attention of your audience. While they might not see thousands of ads every day, it’s entirely true that social media networks, connected TV platforms, and other digital media providers are constantly battling for the ever-decreasing attention span of their users.

Think about how you used to watch YouTube videos 15 years ago, compared to how you might watch them today. It probably wasn’t on a smart phone, swiping through the constant stream of attention-grabbing content that is available today. Filled with comments, reactions, live streams, bright thumbnails, and the plethora of other visual clutter one might find on YouTube,. Studies have shown that this significant increase in the amount of information presented to us has decreased our attention span, and we are less likely to spend time paying attention to a single topic before the next one comes along.

What is visual clutter, and why is it important for your YouTube ad?

One very important keyword to pay attention to here is visual clutter, which, in the context of YouTube refers to video thumbnails, comments, emoticons and anything else that might distract the viewer’s attention from an advertisement.

anatomy of a Youtube ad diagram
Anatomy of a YouTube ad

This is particularly important to pay attention to because every time a viewer looks at another thumbnail or element on the screen instead of your ad, it’s a missed opportunity to build awareness, grow your brand, or drive engagement towards your call-to-action. This means that advertisers need to find creative ways to break through the clutter and maintain the attention of the viewer. This is no easy challenge in a digital world that is constantly filed with new information.

The best way to tackle this challenge is by finding attention-grabbing visuals that stand out from everything else on the page. With our parent company Alpha.One, we we have run thousands of eye tracking studies on behalf of advertisers to help them identify the most attention-grabbing visuals to use in their ads, but these studies are slow and inefficient due to the need of recruiting research participants and using specialized eye tracking equipment.

So that’s why we made the Ad Breakthrough score for

What is the Ad Breakthrough Score, and how can it help you make better YouTube ads?

The Ad Breakthrough score is the measure of how much visual attention your ad receives on YouTube, relative to its surroundings.

To calculate your Ad Breakthrough score, Junbi will take the ad you upload and place it in a variety of different YouTube viewer modes or ‘contexts’. The type of context it is placed in depends on which video player mode you selected when uploading your ad, as the video player mode will change the user interface of YouTube and therefore requires a different context to be tested in. Some examples of different video player modes are Desktop, Desktop Theater, Mobile, Connected TV and so on.

The example screenshot below shows a single frame of how an ad would be tested in the Desktop video player mode context. The area within the red dotted line is the area that will have the attention measured relative to its surroundings.

Visual representation of the area in which the ad breakthrough score measures attention
A visual representation of the area in which the ad breakthrough score measures attention

Once has processed your ad, you will receive your Ad Breakthrough score in two ways: The first is your overall ad breakthrough score; this is an average of the frame-by-frame Ad Breakthrough score, normalised against a benchmark dataset of thousands of YouTube ads. This will give you an indication of how well your ad breaks through the clutter relative to other ads on YouTube.

The second type of Ad Breakthrough score you will receive is the frame-level score: This is a frame-by-frame score, which is calculated by taking each frame and placing it within a set of YouTube contexts based on the viewer mode you defined. This will give you insights on a frame-by-frame level as to exactly which moments in your ad are drawing the most visual attention and which moments are likely to lose the attention of your viewers.

Example of the Ad Breakthrough results of a ad on
Example of the Ad Breakthrough results of a ad on

What makes a good Ad Breakthrough score?

We know that Ad Breakthrough is defined by the amount of attention paid to your ad relative to its surroundings. But what do you actually need to do to maintain that attention?

It can be done in many ways, and you should feel free to be creative in the way you grab attention, but some tips we’ve found to be effective in the past are:

Tip #1: Use faces in your ad

We are naturally inclined as humans to notice faces, and they will consistently draw attention, no matter the context. This screenshot from a ad shows that the faces are the most attention-grabbing element of all the content on the page.

Example of faces drawing attention in a YouTube ad
An example of faces drawing attention in a YouTube ad

Tip #2: Create clear focus points

Guide the viewer’s attention towards one clear object or element in the middle area of the screen, like the bold, colorful text in this HEMA advertisement.

Example of a clear focus point in a YouTube ad
An example of a clear focus point in a YouTube ad

Tip #3: Use text and objects with contrasting background colors

Use large, clear text with plenty of contrast to the background. This can be supported by an attention-grabbing object or visual – as seen in the example below.

Example of a Robinhood as which uses clear text and an image of a phone against a highly contrasting background
An example of a Robinhood is one that uses clear text and an image of a phone against a highly contrasting background

Things to avoid to ensure you don’t lose attention to the clutter

Tip #1: Make sure you always have a focus point

Make sure you’re always clearly giving the viewer something to focus their attention on, avoid using empty landscape shots without any people or clear objects to focus on.

Example of a YouTube ad which does not break through the clutter
Example of a YouTube ad which does not break through the clutter

Tip #2: Avoid too much empty space

Additionally, wide-angle shots of an open space with no clear visual hierarchy can also a result in a lower ad breakthrough score. Make sure you are guiding the eyes of your viewers and ensure they have something to focus on. This shot below of multiple mattresses in a room is losing a lot of attention to surrounding elements on YouTube due to not having a clear focal point for the viewer’s attention.

Example of a YouTube ad with too wide of a focus
Example of a YouTube ad with too wide of a focus

Wrapping it up

So we’ve covered visual clutter, Ad Breakthrough and shown you some examples of what has (or has not) been effective in the past. However, the reality is that there is no single best way to break through the clutter – there are best practices, and things to avoid. But remember that ads still need to be creative and engaging, so don’t feel like you need to follow a formula to create an ad that breaks through the clutter. Interested in checking the Ad Breakthrough of your own ad? Test it for free using our free Youtube Ad Testing Tool!

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