Attention is the New Visibility

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With attention metrics and technology starting to gather pace in the industry, the time is now for marketers to improve the ad experience for consumers. Until most recently, it’s been a lot of theory that the best attention-grabbing placements are going to be the ones you want and will pay a bit of a premium towards. We’ve never been really able to understand directly, which ones are actually grabbing the right attention, and to help plan and organize around that. But that’s all changing.

First, let’s define what attention is. Attention is generally defined as the amount of time someone spends looking at an ad Attention metrics refer to the ways in which we can measure how much attention an ad or piece of content receives. This can be anything from dwell time and mouse hover data to eye-tracking technology. By understanding which placements are receiving the most attention, marketers can make more informed decisions about where to place their ads and how to create better content. In short, attention metrics have the power to revolutionize marketing.

The reason that attention is getting so much debate and why clients are so eager for it is because we tried clicks and that didn’t really work. We realized that clicks are not really adequate. The next thing along seems to be attention but the problem is that attention inherently relies on the creative being considered into how much attention you’re going to get.

Let’s say, for example, you have two ads. One is really good and one is not so good. The one that’s really good is going to get more attention than the one that’s not as good. That’s just the nature of advertising. So what we’re really saying when we’re talking about attention as a metric is that we’re trying to reward creativity.

The problem with that, of course, is that it’s very difficult to measure. And so, a lot of times what will happen is you’ll have a situation where an ad gets a lot of attention but it doesn’t necessarily translate into sales or whatever the desired outcome may be. Conversely, you could have an ad that doesn’t get a lot of attention but it converts really well. So there’s this kind of tension between those two things.

What I think ultimately needs to happen is that we need to find a way to reward both sides of that equation—the ads that perform well and the ads that are creatively interesting. I think if we can do that, then we can start to move away from this click-based model where everything is measured in terms of how many people clicked on an ad and start measuring things in terms of actual impact.

If attention metrics can indeed help businesses create more effective ads, then there are a number of potential benefits that could result from their use. For one thing, fewer people would install ad blockers if they were only ever shown ads that were relevant to them. In addition, businesses would save money by not having to create and display as many ads, since they would only be creating and displaying those that were most likely to be seen and remembered. Finally, the general public would likely have a more positive view of advertising if it was less invasive and more targeted.

The good news is that there’s already a lot of interest in this area. In fact, a recent study by eMarketer found that nearly two-thirds of CMOs are interested in using attention metrics to improve their campaigns. And with good reason; if used correctly, attention metrics have the potential to revolutionize the way we think about advertising.

Only time will tell whether or not attention metrics will be able to save the ad industry. However, the potential benefits are clear—and if this new method of measuring ad effectiveness can indeed help businesses create more targeted and less invasive ads, then it just might be able to turn things around for an industry that is in dire need of a makeover.

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