Not All Attention is Equal
Marc Guldimann has been on the forefront of innovative media measurement, having started and sold multiple companies in this space. He’s now founder and CEO of Adelaide, which provides an omnichannel media quality score based in attention metrics. He also founded Parsec Media, which was sold to Kargo, and Enliken. He discussed why attention should go beyond gaze duration and how to best unpack creative, media, and attention metrics to maximize advertising effectiveness.
Why is attention important?
Attention is important for advertisers because reach has become extremely fragmented over the past 20 years. Since the advent of digital advertising, advertisers have been very fixated on who they’re reaching, sometimes losing focus on how those consumers are reached. At the same time, there’s been a massive fragmentation in media consumption patterns. It’s become more important to measure the quality of that reach, and attention metrics created an opportunity to do that for advertisers.
What is the state of attention measurement today?
We’re in an in-between phase of attention metrics. We’re moving out of the research and laboratory environments into more production. Critical to that is disentangling the impacts of different things like creative, media, and audience. To really scale attention metrics, it’s important to break those into parts and understand all their individual contributions.
|We’re moving [attention] out of the research and laboratory environments more into production.|
How should creative attention and media attention work together?
I don’t think creative, audience, and media should be rolled up into one meta-attention metric because any time you have a KPI which is the product of several different stakeholders it creates perverted incentives.
You probably don’t want to optimize for the maximum amount of attention, especially when it comes to audience. In that scenario, you’re over-indexing on those with pre-existing awareness or an older demographic. On the creative side, there’s plenty of ways to capture a lot of attention onto a creative that is not in the best service of the brand. It’s important to unpack the attention metrics and how they influence creative, media, and audience.
Who should pay for attention metrics?
I don’t know who should be paying for attention metrics. In the media world, attention metrics are used for arbitrage. Because of that, it’s probably better suited for media buyers to pay for attention metrics. As we move from a world of arbitrage to a world of currency, it probably makes sense for media sellers to pay and be involved in the conversation more.
Who is leading the conversation on attention?
Today, the most interesting application of attention metrics is coming out of brands and agencies because we’re in this arbitrage phase. Price and quality are pretty dislocated, making a lot of opportunities for arbitrage. Buyers are starting to put attention in their DSPs and MMM models.
Buyers are starting to hold sellers accountable for the quality of their media based on attention metrics. As that starts to happen, we’re seeing the sell-side adopt attention metrics and start to price-discriminate different qualities of media using in attention metrics and put their media into different tranches using attention metrics.
|Eventually the alpha from this arbitrage decrease as price approaches value. As that happens, we’ll see a shift from arbitrage to currency, and the sell side will start to do more interesting things with attention metrics.
Eventually the alpha from this arbitrage decrease as price approaches value. As that happens, we’ll see a shift from arbitrage to currency, and the sell side will start to do more interesting things with attention metrics.
What are some key attention trends for the next five years?
The industry is at a point now where we’ve proven beyond a doubt that attention metrics are better proxies for media quality than viewability and video completion rate and the status quo. We’ve crossed that pretty important hurdle, and now we need to see attention metrics spread into as many different mediums as possible. At Adelaide, we’ve just released coverage for podcasts and expect to do so for digital out of home soon. We want to see an apples-to-apples currency to evolve out of attention metrics so brands can look across all their media spend to understand quality.
Attention metrics will go into every tool and system that advertisers have. Everything from their DSPs to MMM models to attribution and different ways of looking at media. In every place where you see an impression count or viewability rate, you’ll start to see attention metrics show up. The most interesting evolution of attention metrics will be from arbitraged currency. We have this interesting opportunity in the media space to create a currency that comes out of market forces and out of arbitrage, instead of out of a working group or industry organization that just anoints a metric as a currency. A currency that comes out of arbitrage is much more durable and meaningful than just 50% on screen for one second.
Advice for those looking to learn more about attention metrics?
Dig deeper than just thinking about attention as the duration of gaze. We saw this when working on Parsec (founding team at Adelaide is the founding team at Parsec). We were fixated on the second of attention or attention time or direction of gaze. For attention metrics to be more scaled and broadly applicable, advertisers must disentangle how to use attention metrics to understand the various inputs towards gaze duration. Look at the quality of media placements and how they contribute to attention. What are the right audiences to capture through the lens of attention? People who don’t know about your brand are less likely to pay attention.
|Dig deeper than just thinking about attention as the duration of gaze. For attention metrics to be more scaled and broadly applicable, advertisers must disentangle how to use attention metrics to understand the various inputs towards gaze duration.|
On the creative, looking at creative through the lens of attention not to see which creative captured the maximum amount of attention but which creative can hold the attention the amount of time necessary to break through clutter.
|We should be looking at creative through the lens of attention not to see which creative captured the maximum amount of attention but which creative can hold attention for the amount of time necessary to break through clutter.|
For a brand to really adopt attention metrics on a scaled basis, move beyond just the duration of gaze to what are the ways to understand the quality of the different inputs.