Hannah Richardson - Snap Inc

Moving Beyond Viewability to Focus on Consumer Engagement

Snap’s Hannah Richardson has prioritized marketing effectiveness throughout her career in the marketing, PR and advertising industries. She is now group manager, marketing science at Snap, where she helps the platform work with advertisers to turn business objectives into measurable KPIs. 

She spoke to Realeyes about the importance of creative attention measurement, why creative and media attention must be looked at together to activate effectiveness, and why the industry is at the beginning of its attention journey.


We'll start with a question that leads to an expansive answer. Why is attention important?  

Marketing and advertising have always been about grabbing consumers' attention to get them to buy your products.  That hasn't changed, and it won't change. If your ads don't get noticed, then how can you expect them to make an impact or a change in perception with your consumers?  

Attention measurement has become a huge topic of interest over the last couple of years. It allows us to look beyond impressions and viewability and focus on real consumer engagement. That can only be to the benefit of media planning and buying. When we're thinking about measurement, [attention] is a much more reliable measure of engagement and consumer interaction than viewability, which is just [discussing] the opportunity to see rather than whether someone has seen or engaged with it.

Focusing on a  real human response to something allows us to focus on giving credit where credit is due instead of overestimating the effectiveness of placement and format.  Much work has been done so far to prove the effectiveness of attention in driving outcomes. From mental availability,  and sales uplift, through to profitability - which is the most important thing when it comes to [building] brands.  

There's an abundance of impressions and people are facing more and more advertising all the time, but we know that attention spans are getting shorter. People have less time and less focus, so it's more important than ever to focus on the quality of ads in order to drive impact.  


      Understand what attention means; not just for the industry, but for your brand, platform, or your circumstance   


It seems like attention has become much more of a discussion point. There's more activity around it. Is it related to companies starting to put this into practice instead of just taking place in the research lab?  

It's one of the hot topics of the moment. There are two sides to what people are talking about: the research side, which is proving the value of attention specifically for your brand, your platform, your channel, etc. That's probably where most of the focus has been so far. Attention is still relatively nascent right now and there's a long way to go to get us to an endpoint, whatever that might look like.  

There are a lot of conversations about whether we can start to implement attention-based buying or treat attention as a buying measure and use it for activation. I think we have further to go in terms of that [attention-based buying] becoming universal, because we need to make sure we can be consistent, so that [any industry-wide measurement]  is considered valid.


When we talk about attention, there's obviously the ability to measure creative sort of in a vacuum. And then there's the media in which it runs. Is it important for them to work together, or do you think they should be viewed separately?  

One hundred percent, they need to work together for overall advertising effectiveness. There have been a lot of studies that look into the drivers of effectiveness and creative is a huge driver of advertising impact.

By just focusing on media placement or format, you're only giving yourself half the opportunity to build that quality and drive impact with your consumer. If we think of attention as essentially a measure of advertising quality, there are so many different factors that influence that. You have the platform or the environment that advertising sits within. You've got the audience, the format, the creative and the message, and the impact on attention from all those different elements needs to be understood to ensure we can be as effective as possible.

At Snap, we're focused on researching and building up that evidence base for Snap as a platform to understand the different elements. Once we've done that, then you can start thinking about it in terms of measurement. 

A lot of organizations and platforms, such as Snap, are leaning into attention. What is the best advice for those who are dipping their toes into it or are worried about being left behind

My advice would be to be open but also quite methodical in your approach and not try to run before you can walk. It's important to understand what attention means; not just for the industry but for your brand, platform, or circumstance. Then you work consistently to generate that evidence base that is relevant to you and your particular circumstance.

Think of it as an attention-learning agenda that can inform your future effectiveness rather than a race to the finish line where you have to have the answers to everything. We're at the beginning of the [attention] journey, and a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that it can be hugely valuable in the future.