Nielsen Introduces “The Moment of Next” Describing Content Consumers’ Habits

Content Marketing

This recent study examines closely when and how consumers are most engaged with content. These are critical factors to take into account when putting together an online full-funnel content marketing campaign – no matter the industry.

The study introduces itself by discussing the ever-quoted goldfish attention span numbers – humans have an eight second attention span compared to a goldfish’s nine seconds. Nielsen points this out as a reason advertisers and publishers struggle to grab consumers and keep them engaged. That is indeed a struggle. However, I’m not convinced the goldfish study is the reason. If a human’s attention span is only eight seconds than someone explain the binge-watching phenomenon on Netflix or the immersive video games played by people for hours at a time. There’s a plethora of other reasons this could occur – from poor copy to targeting.

However, regardless of the reasons publishers and advertisers sometimes struggle to grab consumers attention and keep them engaged, Nielsen opined these 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?”

Nielsen calls this “The Moment 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, Nielsen 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. It used AI and virtual reality to analyze unique eye measurements 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 – 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 it’s low it becomes easier for consumers.

The research showed an eight percent lower cognitive load at the end of an article. Thus, making the consumer more likely to engage with a next action at the bottom of an article. This is the Moment of Next.


Nielsen, Research Defines the Moment of Next, 2019

The 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 an article
  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.

What this study did was prove the value of the 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.

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