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Why Attention in Advertising Is Your Best Path to Sales

(This is a summary of a full article featured in Forbes)

Sales, revenue and customer lifetime value should be an advertiser’s North Star, guiding every investment decision. Advertisers talk about this — a lot! So much so that they often put a premium on performance or direct-response advertising because of the inextricable and immediate link to sales.

Performance advertising alone is not a solution for growth. Advertisers continuously conduct studies to prove a link between past ad campaigns and sales which can take months - not ideal for decision-making and are rear-view insights at best.

It’s Time To Pay Attention To Attention

Regardless of if you are considering short-term performance, long-term brand awareness or both, advertising is subject to the laws of attention and emotion. This is especially true for the creative. A study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions looked at 500 campaigns and determined that the creative element was responsible for 47% of sales impact. An advertiser can ensure the best audience targeting, ad viewability and fraud prevention, but all that is worthless if the ad creative doesn’t earn attention and drive emotion.

“We look at it as a ladder,” Sorin Patilinet, global consumer marketing insights director at Mars, Inc., recently told The Drum. “The first need is attention because we know that attention is declining. Once you have gotten that attention, you can then start eliciting emotions. We’ve proven that by building emotions, you can encode your distinctive assets into the consumer’s brain much, much better. And then [those assets] can be recalled. So, the ultimate goal is not emotion. The ultimate goal is memory encoding. But that happens faster through emotions than through rational messages.”

A New Attention Model

Applying learnings from Mars and over 200 other brands and publishers, including the attention analysis of nearly 28,000 videos and millions of participant views, our team at Realeyes developed an attention model for managing creative performance in advertising. The model takes advantage of emotion artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision to passively measure and understand the propensity of an advertising creative to drive impact with an audience in the market.

These stages in the attention model can be represented as a sequential funnel:

1. Capture 

2. Retain

3. Encode

We can measure and portray the performance of these three creative elements together in a “Quality Score” that ranges from 1 to 10. The model does not form a direct link to sales, though it recognizes attention as a necessary precedent for sales. It is a reliable indicator: No attention? No sales. More attention? More probability of sales.