Study shows that uncluttered web pages make ads work better

By Giles Ivey

SAY Media, the digital publisher and consumer engagement specialist, has announced the release of new research that shows clean web pages have a more positive impact on advertiser and site perception than cluttered multi-ad environments.

According to comScore, the average time spent on a web page is steadily decreasing, with the average user spending just 40 seconds on a single page, making it imperative for brands to be smarter about their advertising.

SAY’s findings are good news for brands as they demonstrate consumers spend twice as long with ads on clean pages, which feature ads from just one brand. On top of this, clean sites also deliver higher ad recall and improved brand metrics than cluttered, multi-ad environments.

“Clutter is killing digital media,” said Troy Young, president of SAY Media. “Publishers keep adding more and more ads, because yield is becoming so low, and ads aren’t in view long enough to really drive results. This leads to incredibly cluttered web pages. Our research shows that eliminating clutter with clean layouts and premium ad environments creates sites that work better for brands and offer a better experience for the consumer, and this is exactly what we are achieving with the redesign of our sites like Remodelista.”

The research used a combination of eye-tracking technology and survey research, and was done in partnership with IPG Media Lab and worked with four major brands across multiple industries: ACE, Macy’s, Microsoft and Purina.

Key findings:

    – Clean pages enhance ad and site perception: Sites with an uncluttered ad layout were perceived as more useful, more trusted and better than similar sites. Likewise, ads on these sites were seen as more engaging and positively adding to the overall site experience.

    – Ads are always seen in a clean setting: Based on eye-tracking data, the study found that 100% of respondents viewed the ads on clean pages. Only 76% viewed ads on cluttered, multi-advertiser pages and 89% on sites with multiple ads for the same advertiser. Content remained consistent across all test pages.

    – Dwell time increases on clean sites: Those who saw ads in a clean environment spent 6.4 seconds viewing it, compared to 3.2 seconds on cluttered pages. More specifically, those who believed the site was uncluttered spent more than 13 seconds looking at the ad, four times more than time spent in a cluttered environment.

    – Less clutter means higher recall: Both aided and unaided ad recall was highest in a clean environment compared to a cluttered multi-ad page and a page with multiple ads form the same advertiser.

    – Improved brand metrics: With only one ad exposure, there was an increase in key message association for two advertisers on a clean page compared with a cluttered environment. More importantly, one advertiser saw a significant lift in purchase intent.

Commenting on the survey, Brian Monahan, IPG Media Lab, added: “In a fully mediated world, consumers have many more choices competing for their attention. The amount of attention on a Web page is relatively fixed, and clean ads are garnering more attention than those on cluttered pages. Higher attention to ads is the gateway to better brand and engagement performance.”

Julie Carlson, editor-in-chief of Remodelista, which is owned and operated by SAY Media and runs a clean ad policy, said: “Remodelista embodies both beautiful and sensible design. With SAY and its dedication to clean advertising, we have been able to build a more elegant and streamlined experience for our users that complements the Remodelista brand. Along with our recent redesign, we can better balance great content with relevant brand advertisers, without cluttering each page.”


This study, conducted by IPG Media Lab in partnership with SAY Media included 3,200 Internet representative survey respondents who were exposed to one of four sites and one of four advertising environments (16 cells with 200 respondents per cell). Eye-tracking data was collected using GazeHawk’s proprietary technology among a subset of 200 respondents.

About the author and SAY Media

Giles Ivey is the MD of SAY Media UK. SAY Media is a digital publishing company that creates media brands. Through its technology platform and media services, SAY enables its portfolio of independent content creators to build engaged communities around key consumer interest areas such as Style, Living, Food and Tech. The company provides simple and accountable ways for the world’s top brands to engage with these audiences, at scale, with a reach of more than 400 million people around the world. SAY Media is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices across North America, in the UK and Australia. For more information visit:

About the Clean Campaign

SAY launched its Clean Campaign initiative in 2011. By removing clutter and creating a premium spotlight ad environment, SAY is improving the Web and rolling out Clean redesigns across its portfolio of Web properties.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s