Helping Advertisers Solve the Attention Puzzle
Playground XYZ CEO Rob Hall spoke to Attention Leaders about how attention success varies by environment, how it needs to be tied to business outcomes, and how attention measurement providers can package it in a more actionable way for advertisers.
Why is attention important?
I think the reason it's important and getting so much interest at the moment is because the metric itself has these characteristics that make it powerful for advertisers. The first of those is that attention metrics are being proven to be just more predictive of outcomes than other metrics out there. When we analyze attention metrics and things like brand lift and sales lift, seeing that it's more correlated with those effects than, say, other metrics, like viewability or clickthrough rate, and because it's more predictive, it becomes a great signal that we can focus on as an industry.
The second thing is, and this is another characteristic of a good metric, that it's available in real-time. If you think about those sales lift or brand lift figures, you could call those lagging indicators. Those things quite often come later in the campaign months after. I hear stories all the time about data coming six months after the campaign's finished. What's interesting about attention is that the first step of linking attention to outcomes.
Then, in the next campaign, we're able to use attention as a leading indicator rather than a lagging one, and that ability to do so in real time makes it something interesting for brands.
|Attention metrics are being proven to be just more predictive of outcomes than other metrics out there|
The third thing is that it's actionable. A good metric should be able to be optimized and influenced. Attention metrics are interesting because they enable us to do that.
Those three things create more predictive outcomes than other metrics. It's available in real-time in your dashboard or your reporting systems, and you can influence it and act on it.
What is the state of attention usage today? Are you seeing brands and agencies more active in it or asking you guys questions about how to get involved?
You can see from the news that it’s certainly trending as a topic. It seems like every conference has been about attention.
I think you have all the industry bodies leaning in. There’s an IAB task force for attention in Australia and one in the UK and the US. The MRC as well as the ARF are looking into it as well, so certainly has a lot of tailwinds behind it.
That's what's happening in the macro sense. But what's interesting is how it's being applied - the use cases from everything from creative pre-testing, which is what Realeyes does, through to usage and planning data. How do you use attention metrics and build them into planning tools? For instance, take the notion of a reach curve; how does that change based off of sufficient attentive reach? There's a lot of work happening in that space. I see attention data being applied to inventory quality tools.
Agencies are looking at things like viewability and brand safety across different publishers, placements, or channels. Let's append attention data next to that and form an extra lens on quality, all those existing things plus attention alongside it. We have pre-testing, planning, and campaign measurement.
|A lot of work being done in deploying attention measurement solutions is at a campaign level and being able to measure across channels, formats, line items, audience groups, and creative groups.|
The planning data will tell us, “Here are the best channels for attention.” Or “Here's how much attention we need on a different channel.” And then you come into campaign measurement where you say that was the theory based off of historical data. But how do I know that kind of held true for my campaign?
A lot of work being done in deploying attention measurement solutions is at a campaign level and being able to measure across channels, formats, line items, audience groups, and creative groups. The last thing I see happening today is optimization. And that is the final step in the process. And it's falling into two parts. It's fascinating because you've got campaign optimization for a given creative for a given campaign; how would you [get] the right amount of attention out of your media buying for that? But then there's stuff happening on the supply side with the curation of marketplaces for attention.
Here's a piece of inventory, or an inventory package that delivers X amount of attention. And that's happening on the publisher side or the SSP side or through curation tools.
There is a wide gamut of stuff happening, all the way from pre-testing through to planning through to measurement through to optimization. Brands are at different parts of that journey, so some are probably doing everything, and some are dipping their toe into various pieces of that but, overall, there's one consistent theme: help me understand the relationship between attention and my outcomes.
Those parts of the puzzle are all geared towards saying I got one second or two seconds of attention; what does that tangibly mean for my brand? And that is the overarching feedback from the market, that the attention industry and the attention vendors like ourselves and yourselves have to help with that burden of proof and connect those worlds together for advertisers.
What's the advice for advertisers and agencies getting started or dipping their toes into attention?
I think the conversation is moving from being [strictly] about attention into something a bit more nuanced. Brands need to figure out what the requisite amount of attention is for them to drive their given outcome. The really interesting thing is not all attentive seconds are created equally so you can't say that one second of attention on a YouTube pre-role is the same as one second of attention on Facebook stories or one second on display.
Brands need to do the work upfront to link attention to outcomes but also know that there is a different relationship between an attentive second on one channel versus another.
We’ve given this a phrase: optimal attention. What is the optimal attention for a brand on a given channel and format? And, as I said, these curves all kind of look different, so you might be able to drive your outcome very strongly with one second on a particular format, and you might need three seconds in a different channel on a different format.
It is a slightly involved process, so it requires an attention measurement partner, and being able to get the hands on the outcomes data. But, back to that sales lift or brand lift that is hopefully available. It's about figuring out. You know what data we have from outcomes and how you map that back to attention metrics so that you form that link. And now you have a leading indicator rather than a lagging one.
|...not all attentive seconds are created equally so you can't say that one second of attention on a YouTube pre role is the same as one second of attention on Facebook stories or one second on display.|
My guidance is trying to think about those outcomes being specific, what success looks like making sure that data is available with your partner to pass to your attention partner. You can stitch those worlds together and understand that relationship.
That's the first step in the process. From there, having understood how much attention your brand needs to drive an outcome. You can then kind of scale the process very easily through. We need to measure our campaigns in an ongoing sense, to make sure we're hitting the sweet spot.
Brands should be thinking about partners that can come with data, science, credentials, and that consultative approach and will help some of that heavy lifting around, linking those worlds together.