Attention Industry Needs to Move Upstream to Content Creation
In his illustrious career, Bill Harvey has consistently advanced the field of advertising measurement towards better metrics tied to more specific business objectives. He is specifically a huge proponent of analyzing creative to effectively maximize attention. He is currently chairman of Research Measurement Technologies, which provides a system for maximizing the positive context effects of advertising.
(This interview transcript has been edited for clarity and length.)
Why is attention important?
From the standpoint of advertising effectiveness, it’s always been important to consider all variables that could make some impressions more sales effective than other impressions. Why it’s more important today is because we now have cross-platform measurement coming, and advertisers have heavily invested emotionally and financially supporting better cross-platform measurement. As we throw impressions in a cross-platform bucket, they may not be equal in their value.
What is the state of attention measurement today?
The problem has been – at the highest levels of corporate management, there is very little understanding about the advertising market in general. There’s a tacit belief that impressions are impressions, and what you should do is get the best creative and expose it to the most impressions at the least cost. But not a focus on the quality of impressions. As long as that persists, it will be an uphill battle for attention and emotional resonance companies. But everything is changing, so that battle is not as uphill as it was in the past.
Who should pay for attention metrics?
The advertisers are really paying for everything, but it trickles down through the various levels. Advertisers pay the media and agencies, and media pays the suppliers. The media has putting up substantial amount of money to prove they have skin the game and they have value in their impressions. They’re also people within advertiser organizations that are willing to step up.
|There’s a tremendous covariance between the specific creative and the context. So you have to measure their relationship, not just how they independently perform.|
How should creative attention and media attention work together?
For the consumer exposed to advertising, there’s no such thing as creative and media; it’s one experience. It’s an abstraction to think about them as separate things. There’s a tremendous covariance between the specific creative and the context. So you have to measure their relationship, not just how they independently perform. Best way to do it through controlled testing and experimentation. Using factorial design, you can separate the effects of the creative and media, and also separate their covariant effects. You can then confidently act upon the findings.
|The people leading the discussion are the practitioners... that are focused on getting the measurement right.|
Who is doing attention measurement well? Why?
The people leading the discussion are the practitioners – this new cadre of sophisticated thinkers trying to do it right. Realeyes, Lumen, Amplified Intelligence, and Media Science are four that are focused on getting the measurement right. It’s somewhat of a post-hoc thing: measuring what happened.
Then there’s Adelaide and my organization RMT –– we're all contributing to uplifting the industry’s awareness of all the different variables that go into this. Adelaide is focused on the pre-buy situation; how do we come up with information before the buy was made, using whatever norms, proxies, and predictive measurements can be gotten from looking at the measurements post-hoc. So you can optimize the buy where the measurement will show that it worked.
|We need to bring creative people in and use our tools to give them more insights to create better executions. We must move upstream to where the creative is concocted.|
What will attention measurement look like in five years?
Realeyes is leading the charge towards in-the-wild measurement, which is where this is going versus the laboratory. Being able to measure attention in the wild and context and resonance – between the ad and the individual ID – all these things happening at scale are going to be extremely important. It is all going to be programmatic with real-time optimization and continuous measurement.
Their work isn’t included in 99% of marketing mix modelling. It assumes it is all about money and media types. Nothing else matters. But the creative matters more than all that stuff. We need to wake up the creative people to this whole conversation about advertising and psychology, and how it’s not being optimized yet. We need to bring creative people in and use our tools to give them more insights to create better executions. We must move upstream to where the creative is concocted.
Any advice for advertising leaders trying to figure out attention?
If they’re ARF members, they should ask the content team to send them a packet. They’ll likely be overwhelmed by what they get. For those who are not members, Google search – there is tons of information on attention there.