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Attention is the biggest buzzword when it comes to digital – how can brands stand out?

Attention is the biggest buzzword when it comes to digital.

Firstly, how should we define attention? Google will tell you simply that attention is notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important. Mediacom APAC defined attention as ‘quality reach,’ marketers can measure the certainty of being seen, as well as the duration of viewing and listening.

But why is attention so important for brands when it comes to digital advertising? The average person is now estimated to be exposed to 4,000 commercial messages a day, making traditional ‘viewability’ measures less meaningful. With so many ads shown to an individual throughout a 24 hour period – or 16 if we count the hours we’re likely asleep – consumers are becoming increasingly desensitised to advertising.

Brands therefore need to find a way of generating cut-through. New success metrics are required, particularly in light of the demise of third-party cookies and the consistent consumer pressure against tracking. Privacy legislation is forcing advertisers to rethink their approaches and how they can be smarter when it comes to engaging with audiences in the digital world.

Attention as a currency

For years, the industry has focused on CPM (Cost Per Mille) metrics, but without understanding whether ads are seen, these metrics are fairly meaningless, as they don’t give a true reflection of the costs across all channels.

IAS (Integral Ad Science) states that,

There is strong agreement that attention will become a currency, it is unlikely there will be a single metrics provider, therefore brands need to understand how to use attention correctly for them based on their own product/service, audience, and objectives.

If you speak to ad verification partners, media owners and big publishers about what attention means to them and how we should be using it and how to maximise it – their answers will differ. However whether the company measured quality of ads, provided a DSP (Demand side platform), or had their own unique tech they will all be in clear agreement on three key principles to maximise attention.

Data – minimising wastage:

Whichever type of data marketers are utilising to fuel campaigns, whether it be from search intelligence, publisher first-party data or even brand-owned data on its existing audience, it is important that the data overlaid minimises wastage to maximise success. Each campaign should go beyond third-party audience segments, cookie-based audiences, and vague topline generic segments, to ensure that the correct audiences, which fit the brand’s target consumer groups are reached. For example, overlaying intent/affinity or contextual signals on top of demographics ensures that brands narrow down their audiences to ensure they reach the right individuals every time.

Context – relevance is key:

A MailOnline study on advertising attention showed a 23% increase in attentive seconds when aligning ads with contextually relevant content versus non-contextually relevant content. The same study, also found using contextually relevant content, impacted key lower funnel metrics, leading to a 55% increase in purchase intent and 31% increase in brand consideration. Contextually aligning helps brands appear more native on the content that the user is consuming. The user will naturally be more likely to build positive brand association from an ad when it’s appearing within a relevant environment.

Furthermore, ensuring content is contextually relevant, means brands are more likely to reach audiences when they are in the right mind frame to engage. For example, a car dealership serving an ad highlighting the latest offers to someone who is browsing an article on top 10 best new cars, is capturing that individual at a time of peak interest. OMD activated IAS contextual targeting vs control and found proof this drove success, delivering 8.4% increase in conversion rates across campaigns and a 53% increase in click through rates (CTRs).

Creative – keep it consistent:

Lumens 2017 whitepaper shows the larger the ad the more attention it’s likely to receive. Given the sheer number of commercial messages we’re each receiving per day, coupled with research that 86% of people are using at least one more media channel since the start of the pandemic, standing out in a cluttered marketplace is essential. Creative is one of the most obvious and most influential ways a brand can make itself ‘seen’.

The level of marketplace competition brands are up against means they need to put more time, resource, and effort into the creative than ever before. To do this effectively, brands must take stock of trends in the marketplace. Consumers have shifted 20% more of their time to new video viewing platforms in the last 12 months and in turn, brands should adapt content to engage with users on their preferred platforms. Video is also one of the best forms of storytelling bar none, as it drives elevated levels of recall and memorability compared to other digital formats.

Ads that are text heavy can lose attention straight away. Brands need to stick to key messaging which is short, clear, concise and positioned front and centre. And although it sounds obvious, an ad must be visually appealing. Encouraging consumers to buy your products or services can sometimes be as simple as making an ad appealing to the eye.

The final point to make on creative, is that brands should test, learn and then be consistent with the findings. Not all brands will get it right the first time and that’s okay. Some may find it easier to be less text heavy and more visual than others. But through trial and error, brands can find effective messaging and visuals that should remain consistent across digital platforms to provide a clear look and feel.

If brands can get the three core principles of data, context and creative right, then whatever the objective of the campaign, the combination of these will almost certainly have a greater positive impact on the end goal and KPIs they are measuring against. It’s more crucial than ever that brands reach the right person, in the right place, with the right creative, and these three principles are a sure-fire way to do just that.

Read the article in article Prolific North.

Harry Beevor
Programmatic Account Director

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