CTV emerges as Europe’s leading video platform for ad attention: New research from ShowHeroes Group

London, 11 May 2022: A striking 80% of European users prefer CTV, with connected TV generating a significant increase in ad attention and engagement compared to YouTube and linear TV, a groundbreaking new study has found.


The research from ShowHeroes Group, a leading global provider of video solutions for advertisers and publishers, used state-of-the-art Tobii eye-tracking glasses, along with eSense electrodermal response sensors, to track the attentiveness of TV viewers, including on CTV (smart TVs and streaming devices) in a home environment. These biometric results were then combined with a quantitative survey of 2,100 respondents in seven key European markets, in findings that will have widespread implications for the digital ad industry.


With attention emerging as a key metric in a post-behavioral age, results showed that CTV easily triumphed in advertising’s golden standard of peak attention and engagement. Key findings from the study include:


  • An 82% attention rate for CTV, versus 69% for linear TV and 42% for social video.
  • Users showed an average attention length of 12.2 seconds for CTV content before looking away; nearly 3 seconds longer than linear TV, and 5x longer than YouTube.
  • During CTV ad breaks, viewers were found to be in the “engagement zone” 71% of the time, according to viewers’ electrodermal responses: 11% higher than in social video ads.

Sarah Lewis, Global Director, CTV at ShowHeroes Group, said,

“This wide-ranging experiment is the first time we’ve seen exactly how user experience manifests itself: both as an emotional and attention-based response in front of the CTV screen, and within a wider mass sample of European viewers. Because of the high attention that users have in relation to CTV content, paired with high engagement levels, our research shows that connected TV really hits the sweet spot when it comes to delivering a positive ad experience.”

The electrodermal response and eye-tracking methodology used in ShowHeroes’ experiment was devised by Amanda Ellison, Professor of Neuroscience at Durham University.

“If you know what people are looking at through eye-tracking, that's important, but you don't actually know anything about how engaged they are,” she explains. “By using electrodermal response sensors to track electrical variations in the skin, we’re able to measure a viewer’s current engagement state, telling us how receptive they are to visual stimuli.”

After using these tools to investigate the at-home TV viewing behavior of 30 UK-based participants, the experiment – conducted by independent market research agency COG – was developed further, via in-depth interviews with 20 respondents, who watched and commented on their own viewing footage with Tobii glasses.


This, along with the extensive quantitative survey of 2,100 TV viewers in seven European regions, gave a deep-dive insight into why CTV is now the continent’s preferred entertainment platform – particularly when it comes to ad receptiveness:


  • 62% of users said they use CTV because of the flexibility that it provides, with “range of content” and “ease of use” ranking as other top reasons for cutting the cord with linear.
  • Users saw CTV ads as shorter, more relevant, and better quality than linear TV ads.
  • 43% of users searched for a product because of seeing a CTV ad. One third have visited an advertiser’s website, and 1 in 5 have actively bought a product after seeing a CTV ad.
  • 67% of users said they would prefer to watch CTV ads that are relevant to the content they’re watching, a key finding for the contextual tech market.

“With CTV content, viewers have high engagement and are in the ideal mental state for remembering messages,” says Ilhan Zengin, CEO of ShowHeroes Group. “Users are in the overload stage considerably less on CTV, with the format providing a more relaxed, lean-back environment to reach viewers. With contextual advertising also emerging as a user preference in the survey, it should be top of mind for brands looking to craft a standout CTV experience,” he adds.


The ShowHeroes study was conducted in March 2022 and involved respondents from seven European countries, including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Austria. Biometric data, including eye movement and skin conductance, was obtained from 30 UK participants.

For more information from ShowHeroes’ study, including interview opportunities, methodology insight, and a country-by-country breakdown of CTV usage and behavior, please get in touch with ShowHeroes Global Head of CTV Sarah Lewis at sarah.lewis@showheroes-group.com.

About ShowHeroes Group

ShowHeroes Group is a leading global, independent provider of video solutions for digital publishers and advertisers. The company was founded by Ilhan Zengin, Mario Tiedemann, and Dennis Kirschner in 2016 with headquarters in Berlin and employs more than 350 people worldwide in 28 strategic hubs throughout Europe, the Nordics, LATAM, and the US.

According to Deloitte, ShowHeroes Group is one of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in Germany and was awarded the “Technology Fast 50” prize in 2021. More information on showheroes-group.com.

About COG Research

COG has been involved in researching how people watch video for more than 10 years. Born out of being frustrated that research didn’t get at the truth. It’s not that people lie or are deluded: they are just not very good at noticing why they do things or recalling them.


The agency has conducted a number of award-winning projects for clients like Thinkbox and Channel 4 as well as using the same approach to measure how video works in the outdoor world (for ClearChannel and Ocean Outdoor) and how it works in the London Underground. Their work is widely recognized in the industry and has been the subject of conference papers at ESOMAR, Media Research Group, and EGTA conferences.


They recently opened a Spanish office to help run their European and Worldwide projects.