Being a Trailblazer in Attention Creates a Competitive Advantage
Paolo Provinciali, head of paid media strategy and operations, Linkedin is a big advocate for using attention metrics to demonstrate specific business outcomes. He previously worked as VP of Media and Data at AB InBev and Global Lead, Performance Marketing Strategy, Media Lab at Google. He spoke with Realeyes about how the attention journey mirrors the process it took to adopt the MRC viewability standard, why media and creative attention are equally important, and what it will take for the buy and sell side to align around incentives.
Why is attention important?
Attention is very important nowadays in the advertising industry because it's a prerequisite for message reception and encoding, and ultimately for the ability of advertising to create awareness, change perception, and, therefore, drive behavior.
People have developed a superpower and that is to be very fast in deciding what is and is not going to be relevant for them.
|I think attention is very important nowadays in the advertising industry because it's a prerequisite for message reception and encoding, and ultimately for the ability of advertising to create awareness, change perception, and, therefore, drive behavior.|
From a media standpoint, you can optimize where you serve your ads and find environments that capture a high level of attention. I would argue that, for example, a feed ad does not receive the same level of attention of a full-screen ad.
You can also optimize for attention by looking at the creative. Creative needs to maintain the attention you are able to capture and communicate a message in a way that is going to be deemed relevant to then create awareness, change perception and drive behavior.
By optimizing your media and creative for the level of human attention they are able to capture and retain, you’ll achieve better results and performance over your marketing campaigns.
How would you describe the state of attention today? What are the key things that you're mindful of?
I would argue that attention measurement is in the early stage. If you talk with many practitioners and experts in the industry, there is very little consensus about what should be measured, how it should be measured, and who should be accountable for what.
But if you drive a parallel between this state that we're in right now with attention and measurement, attention optimization, and what we saw with viewability even a few years ago, it’s not that different.
Even establishing, the MRC standard for viewability took a lot of time and led to a compromise that I think that everyone can agree is a perceived floor versus a golden standard.
We shouldn't necessarily hope to get to the golden standard when it comes to attention measurement either; it's a work-in-progress and a journey that we should take as an industry. It's going to be a little messy, but that shouldn't prevent us from doing more work and research and testing around the topic itself.
I believe that there is a competitive advantage if you become one of the trailblazers in this space. There is a powerful and universal premise, which is that attention is a critical factor for advertising impact, and human attention is one of the scarcest and most valuable resources in the industry nowadays.
So what's your advice to organizations that have been sitting on the sidelines that want to get up to speed on attention?
Well, first and foremost, I think that we need to have a set expectation that navigating this space is going to be confusing because we are still in the beginning stages. But it's incredibly valuable, nonetheless.
And yes, there is a very strong argument to be made that if you move ahead of the curve, you gain a competitive advantage. The advice I give is to always follow the consumer and the user experience and optimize for a better experience to yield better results.
|If we build a reward system centered around high-attention environment and high-attention content, I think the sell and buy side of the advertising industry can align around incentives and build an engaging customer experience that ultimately will drive for better outcomes for all the players involved in this space.|
If we build a reward system centered around high-attention environment and high-attention content, I think the sell and buy side of the advertising industry can align around incentives and build an engaging customer experience that ultimately will drive for better outcomes for all the players involved in this space.
Everyone that wants to venture into this space, and conquer a little bit of a competitive advantage, needs to be ready for a certain degree of complexity and uncertainty.
|We shouldn't necessarily hope to get to the golden standard before investing in attention measurement and optimization; it's a work-in-progress and a journey that we should take as an industry.|
You shouldn't be discouraged by the process of trial and error, and ultimately should always optimize for the consumer experience and human behavior to have the best chance of achieving a better outcome for all the parties.
(This interview transcript has been edited for clarity and length.)