Case Study: Irish National Lottery – switching from engagement to attention

Oct 7, 2021

In November 2020, the Irish National Lottery was the first northern hemisphere brand to subscribe to Amplified Intelligence’s attentionTRACE Media Planner, which plants them firmly ahead of the Early Adopter curve. 

We keep saying it (and the superstars at Irish National Lottery were clearly listening) but decisions based solely on short-term volume metrics do not reliably lead to solid brand growth, nor do they tell the real story of impression performance. 

We’ve been working on the method, collection and analysis of human visual attention to advertising for five years. Our aim has been to shift the transactional value of advertising away from Opportunity To See (OTS) to, the more reliable, human visual attention. OTS is, at best, a measure of whether an ad was served and, at worst, a guess as to whether anyone was looking. Human visual attention gives us a clear indication of whether there were human eyeballs looking at an ad.

Our goal was to take five year’s worth of deep academic thinking and deliver it in the simplest and most meaningful way for brands, advertisers and media planners to use. Our first product – attentionTRACE Media Planner.

WHAT IRISH NATIONAL LOTTERY WERE HOPING TO ACHIEVE

No surprises here.

Their primary aim for social media brand advertising is to get noticed and create memory structures, to be remembered by more people, more often. They knew that they needed to move away from vanity metrics, such as Likes, follows, comments or even clicks. They knew that to drive brand choice uplift for their brand they would need something better. 

USING attentionTRACE MEDIA PLANNER

Deciding to use attention metrics and understanding how best to use attention metrics for media planning are two vastly different things. 

Using attentionTRACE through a web interface, Irish Lottery were able to load in their own CPMs and choose their preferred market data. They could immediately customise to their needs and start playing around with media mix. By running through the scenarios, they could get an indication on the likely amount of attention a platform or format was likely to offer.

Rather than needing to replace their existing system, attentionTRACE offered them an additional layer of information, a type of quality check.

Planning and Buying Reach

When you are planning and buying social reach, you want to make that quality reach. LIke all brands, Irish Lottery was determined that their advertising spend achieve the best possible ROI. 

As they ran their scenarios through attentionTRACE, they realised quite quickly that there was more to the reach and frequency picture than meets the eye.

Using this Active Attention Seconds data, they could see that the platform they had been targeting for in-feed video ads offered 2.5 Active Attention Seconds. Another platform offered 3.0 Active Attention Seconds for the same format.

Decision 1: To upweight the spend on the platform that offered the most Active Attention Seconds for the chosen format.

Decision 2: To advertise jackpot draws on that platform (something not previously done).

So with their media planning partner, they upweighted spend on this social platform by 35% for the period November 20-April 2021. Although the reach is smaller in Ireland than on the other social platforms being used, the Attention Seconds in similar markets was stronger. Adding this quality layer through an Attention Adjusted™ Net Reach view, gave a better idea of what reach actually looks like across social channels.

Figure 1: attentionTRACE In-feed Video Comparison, 2020

A new creative approach

Based on the insights from attentionTRACE Media Planner, Irish Lottery established 7 best practice guidelines for their digital ads going forward:

1) Use a mobile-first approach, where ads must work for a small screen. Then transfer these ads into TV advertising to maximise reach. 

2) Play into the bigger creative concept – a Lotto winner buys a waterslide to share with friends and neighbours. This idea is understood by all due to their TV advertising, so when people see the 10-second digital ads they instantly understand the idea.

3) Use strong visuals and limit the amount of text on the screen.

4) Challenge their creative teams to make fun and enjoyable ads that are rooted in the larger creative concept.

5) Ads must be no more than 10 seconds in length. No complex stories or long story arcs. 

6) Ads should work without sound to remain effective for the high number of people who view with sound off.

7) Be rigorous in the use of Distinctive Brand Assets. Brand early, big and often. Use Active Attention Seconds to refine how and when Brand Assets are used to maximum effect.

Every quarter, with their research partners Red C, Irish Lottery measures the impact of their Distinctive Brand Assets. For example, around 72% of adults in Ireland can spontaneously name their brand when they see the waterslide ad, even when the brand name is removed.

This is important because the evidence from attentionTRACE suggests that after 3 seconds attention drops. So if the brand is not seen, it won’t get into people’s long-term memory. The brand must be noticed within this timeframe.

Combining this understanding with Active Attention Seconds data from attentionTRACE, Irish Lottery were able to build a solid creative and media mix to start building short and long-term brand objectives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Rather than change practice, they used Active Attention Seconds to confirm, or reinforce, how to use Distinctive Assets in short social spots.

Changing how you plan

We will get to the brand metrics in a minute, but one of the added benefits of working with attentionTRACE that we didn’t foresee is that it changed how Irish Lottery approached their planning.

Most notably, an increased clarity around planning media mix, which translated to a real reduction in the amount of people hours spent on media mix planning. It also built a clearer creative approach for social media advertising and a more structured use of Distinctive Assets. In short, they stopped planning budget against formats that won’t command enough Active Attention.

They down-weighted engagement metrics, such as click-throughs and follows, and turned focus to frequency, reach and quality reach.

The results

In terms of brand salience, Irish Lottery measures Spontaneous Brand Awareness, Distinctive Brand Assets and then Category Entry Points (Average Score & Network Size) every quarter. Distinctive Brand Assets is probably the most relevant for this article.

By adjusting media mix against attention data, their campaign gained a 35% increase in attention seconds. Observing in Q1 of 2021 that their average Distinctive Brand Asset score had grown 9% since they started measuring in May 2020. Keeping in mind that, they started using attentionTRACE in November 2020. 

Attention seconds are driving an uplift in their Distinctive Brand Asset score.

We look forward to hearing from them after they have evaluated a full year’s results at the end of 2021.

To sum it up

They are confident that uplift scores will continue to grow as they fully embrace attention data into their media planning and reporting systems. It has delivered significant clarity, streamlined planning processes, reduced reliance on vanity metrics and driven clearer creative objectives for their brand. 

WHY ATTENTION WORKED THIS (AND EVERY) TIME

Attention is a valuable measure. It’s a story Amplified Intelligence has been telling for a while. Our work, which incorporates the passive collection of human gaze in real-time and at scale, consistently finds that attention to advertising is significantly and positively related to business outcomes, including brand choice, memory retention and mental availability. If no attention is paid, there is zero chance an ad will work. And the more attention the greater the likelihood of a business outcome.

“It’s no surprise that Irish Lottery’s campaign was so successful,” suggests Professor Karen Nelson-Field, “their evidence-based approach provides a best-practice example of the application of attention in both media planning and in creative strategy.”

The goal for any modern marketer should be to buy media that: a) is aligned to your campaign objectives, and b) delivers the most active attention seconds for your ad budget.

This is the concept of Attention Adjusted™ media planning—same ad budget, more attention seconds, better outcomes.