Jun'22·Andrés Auchterlonie·3 MIN

Why do brands need to worry about the attention they are driving?

Home Why do brands need to worry about the attention they are driving?

Brand engagement just isn’t what it used to be. In “the good old days”, with TV, it was easy to identify which commercial break of which soap opera, cartoon or sporting event to place ads in, to drive brand recall. It is no wonder that brands are still willing to pay upwards of $6 million to reach 110 million viewers of the Super Bowl. We’re not even factoring the cost of production of the ad at this point. Outside of the Super Bowl, the story is different.

Marketers world over will agree that with people consuming a mind boggling amount of content across a steadily growing number of devices, screens, platforms, channels, consumer attention has become extremely fragmented. With the average human having a relatively finite attention span, the battle to grab a slice of that pie has fiercely intensified. Over the last few years, we’ve been seeing the word ‘Attention Economy’ popping up often. The attention economy treats attention as a scarce commodity, which everyone from brands, big businesses, politicians and numerous other entities are fighting for.  

In today’s digital age, the very real fight for this limited resource is shaking up the way marketers are measuring success. Human attention has quickly become the key measure of ad or content success. It’s important to note that ‘attention’ is not the holy grail of content performance. It is, however, the next big step and builds on traditional metrics of success. At Seedtag, we see three key components that need to be in place to ensure attention is grabbed at every possible opportunity.

Context drives impact

As we move towards a privacy-first world, measuring whether the right audience saw their ad has become quite the task for marketers. The end of the cookie, industry regulations such as GDPR and CCPA are impacting the ability to target and measure success. This is where context plays a key role for marketers. With the average consumer seeing anywhere between 6000-10000 ads a day, contextual marketing allows marketers to drive more than three times the engagement they would have got otherwise.

Studies show that placing ads in the right context not only drives engagement, but is directly correlated to higher sales. For example, a 12-year old watching the entire ad for a new car model is not going to result in an immediate sale. That’s where context makes the difference.

Creativity still matters

Creativity continues to be the central focus of any metric of success for placement of ads. What hasn’t changed since the day the first ad was ever printed is the human nature to engage more with something that is relevant and interesting.

Studies indicate that the variation between a good creative and bad creative can be as much as 17 percentage points when it comes to brand recall. This isn’t limited to just a great ad copy in today’s day and age but how can one creatively engage with the audience. Millennials today are less trusting of traditional ads and rely on their network for recommendations on things to buy, places to eat, brands to engage with. Leveraging interactive technology to capture attention that’s mostly focused on social media and smartphones will yield better results than traditional ad posts. Let’s take an example from a decade ago. Businesses leveraged the power of augmented reality delivered by the mobile game app Pokémon GO to drive footfalls without actually placing any advertisements. Businesses cemented a position on the virtual game board by investing in the sponsored location feature of the game.  A pizza business in Queens saw a 75 percent increase in business by ensuring app-users came to their restaurant in search of Pokémon.

Non-intrusive advertising equals better engagement

How many times have we been thoroughly annoyed by an ad popping up in the middle of a video online or while one is just getting in the groove of their favorite playlist? Studies show that ads viewed in non-disruptive environments, like below the article or in a newsfeed, drive 25 % higher attentiveness than ads placed in an interruptive environment like pre-roll… or worse, mid-roll. It is paramount for brands to know where and when to place the ad so that consumers are in the best state of mind to engage with the ad. If one were watching a video of their favorite music artist performing, and were interrupted by an ad to buy a burger; no matter how good the burger looked in the ad, one would probably be irked and wait to get back to seeing the musical performance. 

In the attention economy, it’s imperative to predict the mind-set of the consumer when placing the ad and the likelihood of them being in the right frame of mind to engage and eventually act.

In summary, it’s time marketers paid attention to attention. There’s no doubt that in the current scheme of things, it has become harder for brands to grab and hold people’s attention. While we encourage a much required move towards an attention economy, and away from traditional measures of success, it’s important to set relevant benchmarks and demonstrate how attention is the next big impactful metric. It would serve marketers better to focus on optimizing attention, not just viewability or impressions, to improve the impact and effectiveness of their online advertising.

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