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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Attention: The new rules for how publishers can capture it and reap the rewards

November 10, 2021 | By Caroline Hugonenc, Global VP Insights & Research – Teads @Teads

The discussion and debate about measurement in online advertising is rife at the moment. However, one thing is clear: For too long viewability has been used to paint an incomplete picture of ad impact.

We’ve known for a while that viewability is an imperfect metric. And, while standards have improved, the next step in online measurement for brands has been overdue. Media agencies have been working on this problem for a while. They rightly seek to build more sophisticated models in order to spend their clients’ ad dollars within environments that are truly delivering value. 

Though some studies have been done, dentsu international has just released one of the most comprehensive to date. Their Attention Economy research is the product of a three year study involving multiple media partners. The goal is to truly understand the drivers of attention and create a real metric for advertisers to use going forward.

What delivers attention

Critically, the study demonstrated that attention is three times better at predicting outcomes than viewability. They uncovered four key factors that deliver attention:

1. User choice

Forced ads gain more raw attention vs. ads that are easily ignored. However, when a consumer voluntarily views an ad, it results in a significant impact on brand lift metrics, whether they viewed for 2s or 20s. Formats that earned attention yield better, and much quicker, outcomes than outcomes than forced formats.

2. Creative

The importance of creativity on ad effectiveness has been well documented. However, it was important to measure its impact within their Attention Economy framework. The study showed that ads optimized for the Teads platform gained a 49% boost in attention vs the original. This is a result of optimizing TV ads for a mobile experience. These grab attention from the start through use of techniques such as contrast, addition of text, animation, or bold colors. 

3. Relevance

The dentsu study showed that placing ads within relevant context for the reader gives an uplift of Attentive Seconds Per 1,000 of 13%. Recently, IAS conducted a study with Neuroinsights in the U.S. that demonstrated 23% more detailed memory and 27% more global memory for ads that were aligned with the contextual content, compared with those that were not. We have also observed superior branding impact for ads that are contextually aligned.

4. Time in view

Finally, viewability on its own isn’t enough. However, time in view has been confirmed as an important factor for attention by the study. Both video and display ads quantifiably benefit from quality, viewable time. 

Good news

All of the above is fantastic news for publishers. The study clearly shows that premium publishers drive high engagement of users with quality content. and that induces a slow scroll speed. When this is tied in with in-article, outstream video ad formats, it delivers an average of 12.2s of  time in view (even higher than instream) and twice the amount of attention compared to social media.

Ever since viewability became a priority, publishers have suffered. They’ve also been forced to include ad formats that provide sub-standard user experiences, purely because media buyers are focused on it as a metric. But the quantification of attention can shift this balance. Ad buyers will increasingly be able to focus on media plans that are based on attention and deliver clear business outcomes. 

This will bring back to the center stage not the importance of the quality of the content. It also aligns ads within the context that they’ve been placed.

There are many factors of digital media that are changing for the better. Advertisers, agencies and media owners are all embracing an online ecosystem that’s free from third party cookies. They are aware of its impact on both society and the environment and focused on the quality of ad experiences, rather than the quantity. Attention can be a cornerstone of this new landscape, where a range of brand metrics can be more clearly attributed to certain campaigns.

This is where premium publishers can excel, showcasing greater value to brands than ever before and securing a greater portion of online ad revenue that is currently held in silicon valley. This can be done whilst simultaneously creating even greater trust with their engaged readership and therefore helping develop a truly sustainable media ecosystem. 

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