5 things you need to know about attention in advertising

Apr 19, 2021

Legacy metrics no longer paint a useful picture. It’s easy to talk about ‘disruption’ and ‘rule-bending’ while we wait for our Uber Eats, without truly considering the level of disruption affecting media and advertising at the moment. It seems ludicrous to accept this level of change, yet still expect legacy metrics to tell s what we need to know.

The metrics we rely on to buy and sell advertising are still based on the traditional opportunity-to-see (OTS). Granted, for an ad to count as impression it needs to meet the MRC standard of 50% pixels for 2 seconds. Which ultimately, is still just an opportunity-to-see.

Our human attention research has shown us that, even after viewability standards are applied, on average only 50% of impressions are looked at. And for the majority of the 50% being looked at, less than 100% of the ad is in view. Think about it, if your brand wasn’t in the viewed portion, you just wasted your money.

We see it clearly in our data: time in view can equally represent distraction. And distraction is worsening with an increased number of ads, ad formats and media types, all with different user experiences. Yet legacy metrics are still selling an ‘opportunity’ while the likelihood of that opportunity appears to be diminishing.

The odds are stacked against effectiveness.

The only metric that will tell us if a human has viewed an ad, is human viewing. Simply knowing whether someone is looking at an ad is a vast improvement on the probability-based opportunity-to-see.

Attention data, which is independent of platform owners, gives advertisers a way to identify and manage the reality of platform (and creative) differences.

As a human-centred measure, attention has a resilience that keeps pace with continual device and platform change.

1. No attention paid, no impact

If there is no human paying attention to an advertisement, there is no chance the message will get through. Which means the effect on business outcomes can only be negative. Sales, awareness, recall, message take out, mental availability, upper/lower or whatever other funnel you use to determine success will all be adversely affected.

2. Attention is not a complete picture of a human brain

Everyone wants an easy answer, which is why marketers really want attention to give a complete picture of a consumer’s brain. But it can’t. Nor can it give a true causal link between attention and sales: it doesn’t exist. Humans are far too complicated for that. But simply knowing whether a human is present and looking at an ad is still a vast improvement on the current impression system.

3. Humans don’t pay sustained focused attention

Most marketers have the wrong notion of human attention to advertising. It’s a painful truth but most humans aren’t that interested in advertising. And we certainly don’t pay continued, deep and sustained attention to it. Amplified Intelligence’s sub-second attention measurement shows that we switch in and out of active, passive and non-attention across the entire course of time in view. And this differs across platforms; some get more attention and less distraction than others.

4. Attention can highlight quality reach

Attention as an advertising metric can be used as a weighting layer in media planning to highlight quality reach. Current net reach includes non-attention and passive attention (eyes-nearby) even if the impression is viewable by MRC standards. Applying Active Attention (% of Ad Length) as a weighting layer to render an Attention Adjusted™ Net Reach will remove distraction from net reach numbers to provide real viewing rates.

5. Human attention IS related to business outcomes.

Human attention is significantly and positively related to business outcomes. It’s not a perfect relationship: humans are, after all, human.  What we do know is that Active Attention and Short-Term Advertising Strength (STAS) are related. STAS as a gold standard business outcome measure shows sales uplift from incorporating a market share baseline. The more Active Attention Seconds an ad achieves, the greater its sales uplift.

 

Attention in advertising is a game changer.

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