Andy Brown

Attention’s Big Moment Has Arrived

Andy Brown has long been on the vanguard of advancements in advertising metrics. As a former CEO and chairman of Kantar Media and a strategic advisor to many emerging adtech companies, Andy has helped increase the sophistication of measuring what works. Now CEO of the Attention Council, he spoke to Realeyes about the investment in attention metrics, what education still needs to be done, and what advertisers who need to get up to speed can do to learn more.


Why is attention important?

Well, you can answer that question on many different levels. The advent of more widespread use of attention metrics is that we're moving from an industry built around opportunities to see if the ads are actually seen. It might sound simplistic, but that is a really big step forward as we go from gross impressions to net exposure. Beyond whether people see the ad or not?

And then I think there's a big piece around creative: a huge amount of work goes into building creative, but also there's quite a big industry around testing, creative and optimizing how creative is put together. There are valuable insights from attention that we can pull out from that.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most important thing of all, is that where clients have been using attention metrics, either creative or media placement, they see significantly higher levels of return on their investment.

So, in other words, it works.


What's the state of attention measurement today?

Attention metrics are getting - forgive the pun - a lot of attention. The use is becoming more widespread.

All major media holding companies are now using attention metrics, as are a growing number of publishers, and almost by inference, a growing number of advertisers are now engaging with attention metrics. With that, it has become perhaps a bit of a gold rush in terms of new players coming into the market on the measurement side and building solutions around attention metrics.

There's a lot to be done around educating the market, especially as more money is invested against attention metrics. That kind of money at risk, in principle, would suggest that we need to do more work. That means experimental design work, not just case studies, to show effectiveness. We need to know exactly how it works. We need to create a much tighter definition of what attention is.

In the last couple of weeks, the ARF has put together a working group, which will affect a study that will look at some of the normative outputs from attention metrics research.

It's a really interesting time right now. It's the next step in the evolution and elevation of attention metrics.


      Attention metrics for media is about finding a highly engaging environment for your ad and making sure that the ad is seen. Whilst creative is making sure that you get maximum value out of that opportunity by putting a high quality communication in to that media – the two work quite harmoniously.  


How should a marketer, agency, or publisher think about the sort of attention through the prism of creative and media?

It must have been twenty-odd years ago that we as an industry began to separate the media function from the creative function in agencies. There are certain benefits that we've accrued from doing that. But one of the first things that called out to me when I came across the attention metrics was, is this the best way?

We see full-service agencies where creative and media come together again. If you look at them in isolation, attention metrics for media are about finding a highly engaging environment for your ad and making sure that that ad is seen; while the creative component is making sure that you get maximum value out of that opportunity by putting a high-quality communication into that ad. I think the two work quite harmoniously. Who knows? We might see a structural shift or, at least, a business process shift created by attention.


What's the advice for people watching this that have heard a bit about attention but are behind where they think they should be?

You might expect me to say this, but my advice would be to get your feet wet and get involved in the process, even join the Attention Council. It's a great opportunity to rapidly accelerate their understanding and learning in very practical terms about how attention is being used today.

(This interview transcript has been edited for clarity and length.)