Attention as a Catalyst for Change
Alex Cheeseman is Head of Enterprise, UK at Outbrain, a technology platform that drives business results by engaging people across the open web. He spoke to Realeyes about how it’s important to pick an attention measurement and stick with it and why incremental progress is the goal.
Why is attention important?
Attention isn't important. There's a practical reality, right? Attention by itself doesn't necessarily mean anything right. What's really important, as a brand or an advertiser, is how does attention drive incrementally better business results? That's what we need to focus on. If we want to see attention become a catalyst for change, then we need to clearly understand, as an industry, how does attention drive better business results?
|If we want to see attention become a catalyst for change, then we need to understand, as an industry, how does attention drive better business results?|
Why is attention having sort of its big moment right now?
Attention is not new. It's been around for a while. We're seeing more people interested in how attention can become a lens for driving better business results because the standards that we've set aren’t necessarily giving us the results we need.
If we think about how most media is bought today and the standards of viewability that were set in 2014 by MRC. Why anybody would be comfortable with 50% of their pixels in view for one or seconds [determining viewability] completely blows my mind. What's happening is people are looking for alternatives. Because we're in an environment in a climate where media budgets have shrunk because of the economic impact of what's going on, people are asking to do more with less. Then people have to look at other alternatives.
|If a small percentage of your media can actually deliver better results and you can optimize to get more from this and if attention becomes that kind of catalyst for change, then fantastic.|
If a small percentage of your media can actually deliver better results and you can optimize to get more from this and if attention becomes that kind of catalyst for change, then fantastic.
We're seeing people explore that today because there are now vendors out there, or platforms out there that are helping us to measure it from a media perspective and there are vendors out there that can help us to measure it from a creative perspective.
There are players out there that have baked attention into their media and advertising. So now we have this trifecta of opportunity. It's a good and exciting opportunity for any brands and businesses that are looking to do more targeted, higher attention formats that drive results.
How do you view creative and media attention? Should they be working together? Or should they be viewed through separate lenses?
It’s really muddy when you look at it together. There's a wonderful study from Karen Nelson-Field. She ran this study that showed it doesn't matter if you have this incredible creative asset. If you put it in a really low-attention media placement, then it drives poor results.
When we think about attention, we look at it through three distinct areas. First of all, we look at the platform or environment. What is the right platform that can drive the highest engagement for the right type of cost? It's important that you look at all those different lenses to understand where you can garner the most attention for the most effective cost within the context. There's no point showing somebody a set of running shoes if they're really not interested in running shoes, right?
|...it doesn't matter if you have this incredible creative asset. If you put it in a really low-attention media placement, then it drives poor results.|
And the last piece is when you've got the right placement, you've actually got the right targeting, and you've got an opportunity to capture attention. How do you then deliver the most engaging and high-attention format and creative? There are a lot of businesses that can help you understand what the elements and the tools are to generate the right creative to capture and maintain the right type of attention so you're creating the right memory codes in people's brains.
Who is doing attention measurement well?
In my mind, there are these three big macro players - Adelaide, Lumen, and Amplified Intelligence - that are pure thoroughbreds in helping to understand how to capture attention across media.
And then you've got the creative vendors that help you create assets that keep and maintain the highest amount of attention, and for people like that you got System One, which is incredible at looking at ads and looking at emotional resonance, and how you keep and maintain that type of attention, and people like Kantar.
|You have to approach attention strategically... So [that means] thinking about which is the right vendor for me and what is the right methodology?|
Then you've got the advertisers that have created formats that are driven for high attention. It's one of the things that we've done right. We launched Onyx six months ago because we know that if you have premium publishers in brand-safe environments and if you put your high-impact display in your video in those placements, then you will drive attention.
What is your advice for the advertisers or agencies that feel like they're behind the times or want to get started in attention? How do they take that first step?
You have to approach attention strategically. If you look back over the past two or three years, a lot of brands and advertisers have tried attention and might have run a few campaigns they might have a score. They might have had some results. And they're like, “Great. Let's move on to something else,” because it hasn't necessarily moved the needle for them.
So [that means] thinking about which is the right vendor for me and what is the right methodology? And then how do I run all my media? So, you've got some consistency because you can't compare scores from Adelaide with scores from Lumen and with scores from Amplified Intelligence.
It just doesn't make sense. You need to look at the methodologies that are out there, and you need to buy into the one that you believe in the most. And there's a practical reality that it is impossible for anybody to know what goes on in somebody's brain when they're looking at an ad right? And it's also impossible to measure it right?
Taking that as a reality, you must understand that attention measurement is more around the probability that somebody is exploring, engaging, digesting, spending time, and seeing your ad. And once you've accepted that, and you then look at the methodologies, then look at the vendors and go, “Do you know what? I believe that this is the right vendor based on the methodologies I've got?”
Once you've gone through that phase, you have to understand that what you're doing isn't going from one to a hundred, right? There's no such thing as a silver bullet. You're not going to suddenly get to 100 percent attention. But what you do need to believe is that if I use attention with this vendor, can I incrementally improve my media performance? And can I incrementally improve and start to drive better outcomes?
The way that I like to think about it is a 100-meter sprinter isn't going to shave five seconds off his or her time. They can potentially shave fractions of a second, right? And whether they do that by shaving their legs, increasing their VO 2 Max, or perhaps changing their diet or changing their shoes, they will do that incrementally.
When you approach attention, approach it strategically across all your media. Buy into the methodology with the attention measurement platform that you believe has the best approach. And then, think about how incrementally you can start to improve your media and your results. And then over time, what we’ve seen is you will be able to massively reduce your media spend because you are able to drive the same results with fewer impressions and that’s the ultimate goal.