AdWeek NYC Learnings: Consumer Attention – a scarce commodity

A couple of common threads across the course of the NY Ad Week timetable of speakers and lectures were those of mental availability and current measurement metrics, with the latter increasingly perceived as failing to support advertisers in today’s highly accelerated digitised economy.  Given that consumer attention is fragmented across what is estimated to be up to 10,000 advertising messages a day, current device-based measures are not accounting for this considerable fragmentation, which leads to brands paying for ad viewability that is not an accurate measure of time spent with an ad, and time spent with an ad drives mental availability.

Why attention-based metrics are critical to successful media strategies.

Viewability is what is just served, not verified as looked at, in other words “Time-in-view versus active attention”.  Dr Karen Nelson-Field’s work in developing gaze tracking and facial recognition technology using intercept device cameras has discovered that attention to advertising is significantly and positively related to business outcomes, including brand choice, memory retention and mental availability. This was also correlated in a recent report by Peter Field and Rob Brittain which showed that campaigns that contributed to a brand mental availability (MA) had higher returns across a range of business metrics.

Is an “Attention CPM” the new metric norm?

Currencies take time to form, and it is too soon for an “Attention CPM”.

To quote Dr Nelson-Field “Attention CPM’s are not commensurate with performance of a platform and risks turning dirty data into a metric that will drive the industry to look for the lowest cost attention before it has genuine transparent value.  Understanding how to optimise at the placement level is important as every channel and format has a ceiling for optimized attention.  Gaining insight as to each platform’s performance is vital to leveraging working with what you have available.  Solving the current currency problem and value of one platform over another can’t yet be quantified”.

Looking for attention in 2022

As we emerge from, and come to understand the marketing impacts of Covid, understanding effectiveness has taken on an increased sense of urgency in the face of Apple’s tracking changes and the deprecation of cookies. Restriction of inventory looms large in the minds of marketers. Lack of transparency across the digital supply chain has resulted in ongoing frustration and loss of trust in the current metrics of brand safety, viewability, VCR/CPCV to measure consumer engagement.

The next step in Attention Economy is to understand how it can be applied for scaled use and application through the validation of the value of attention, and the subsequent quality and cost to overlay that value on each platform, and further – how attention plays into short term and long-term impact and most recently, mental availability. Driving successful brand growth demands both consistency and inventiveness. Engaging in consistent conversations on agile and optimized strategies and trading channels ensures bespoke solutions are delivered and continuously evolved.  An inherent part of that includes keeping abreast of the changes across the measurement metrics landscape and how these developments are impacting brands and their bottom lines.

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Dan Hojnik