Advertising is changing faster than ever. Consumers have more choice, audiences are blocking more ads, and global impacts such as the Covid-19 pandemic have shifted engagement and content demands across the board. All of this, coupled with regulatory changes that stand to make attribution even more challenging, have thrust us into an attention evolution. Now, we must consider renewed approaches and varied metrics to capturing and retaining real human attention at scale.
Across the numerous campaigns, ad formats, channels, and devices marketers have in motion at any given moment, getting a comprehensive understanding of performance is the only way to build solid and results-driven strategies. However, this is only possible through a commitment to measuring performance beyond baseline verification metrics. In other words: emphasize consumer attention, which, let’s face it, is no easy feat.
At its most effective, true partnership between brands and publishers paves the way for success, supporting marketers in realizing such coveted results and successful programs. Thus, it has never been more critical to demonstrate partnership value and audience quality.
Get your metrics right
So, the next time you are formulating the right attention metrics to illustrate to advertisers that your audiences are engaged and that your inventory will deliver results, consider the below framework. Here are some tips we’ve developed based on the most recent quarterly measurement benchmarks from Oracle Moat. They should help set you apart from the rest so that you can provide a connected story and showcase actual value:
1. Desktop display
When looking at measurement for display advertising, the amount of time spent with the content on the page in addition to how people engage are critical to understanding success. To determine the time spent, metrics such as dwell time, which tracks the average time spent with the content in the foreground tab of the web browser, are the most reputable and accurate ways to determine attention. To measure engagement with advertising, we need to understand the quality of the attention, how long ads are in view, whether people interacted, and for how long. We use metrics such as attention quality, in-view time, interaction rate, and interaction time to do this.
Expert tip: The average benchmark for attention quality – percentage of ads that go from hover to interaction – is 28.6% across all desktop display ads. As an industry, this reinforces the fact that we must focus on bringing the creative conversation to the forefront.
The mobile environment yields the most fragmented audience attention. This puts added pressure on brand messaging to make an impact. There are consistencies between how we measure across mobile and display – such as dwell time and in-view time. However, with mobile, we can also measure the rate of impressions touched by a user and leverage that as a proxy for interaction and engagement.
Expert tip: 75% of all ad impressions on mobile in-app video are audible for any amount of time. Audibility is increasingly creating opportunities for publishers and marketers to engage with the user and capture attention.
3. Branded content
With a growing number of publishers launching in-house studios to facilitate and produce sponsored editorial, branded content is rising. With the onus on the publisher to showcase the quality and engagement of the content program, metrics such as scroll rate, scroll depth, and active page dwell time are significant indicators of attention and program success.
Expert tip: Average down scroll velocity – an indicator into whether a user is reading the article or skimming it – is 87.7 pixels per second across all buy types. These attention signals are often overlooked but provide valuable insight into readership and are key to a successful balance between ad monetization and quality editorial.
4. Video and digital streaming services
To effectively assess the quality of video data exposures, a mix of sight, sound, and motion signals are necessary. Looking towards metrics such as percent of video played in-view, completion quality, audible rate, and completion rate will help you build a complete picture.
Expert tip: Even with the massive popularity of video and digital streaming, there are still nearly 20% of all video ads on desktop that play out of focus. Some would argue that if the sound is on that there is some level of attention yet remember not all attention can and should be scored equally.
Attention quality matters. Furthermore only 69.4% of videos reach complete status, and although a great stat to include in campaign wrap reports, that signal alone doesn’t tell us much about attention performance, and we need to continue to raise the bar beyond legacy ways of evaluating success. For example, in reality, only 23% of those same desktop video ads were audible and visible on complete, which is a massive drop-off, equating to a 27.9% completion quality score.
Optimized for attention
To optimize toward attention, you must track it in all its forms — whether that’s aggregate time on screen, interaction rates, video completion, and audibility, or even the screen real estate of an ad. There are so many variables that change how consumers engage, thus how brands should consider seeking their targets and how publishers should ascertain to provide optimal value.
At the end of the day, a single metric can never tell the whole story, as attention is not the same in every place or every circumstance. As we hear repeatedly: one size certainly doesn’t fit all. As you begin – or continue – your measurement journey, remember that through better measurement and a focus on attention beyond verification, you will not only understand what is successful. You will also be able to identify gaps and optimize toward areas that drive real impact.