Ads need attention, creativity and context

Ads need attention, creativity and context

Using the right ad formats, quality media and appropriate creative to engage audiences should be as important as optimising for attention for advertisers. 


With an increasing number of digital marketers transitioning away from viewability and toward attention as the metric of choice, the industry is in search of ways to best align itself with the ecology of attention. And rightfully so, with research from Dentsu International finding that attention is three times better at predicting outcomes than viewability.

This gradual shift toward attention has meant that marketers are now able to address some of the key challenges they’ve had around justifying ad spend, and whether they are driving true business outcomes.

As a result, it’s imperative that advertisers continue to move away from viewability, and place their focus on attention metrics when buying, planning, and measuring campaigns.

At the same time, marketers need to ensure attention measurements are looking outwards, rather than inwards.

As Karen Nelson Field, founder and CEO of Amplified Intelligence argues, the increase in the amount of metadata available in this increasingly complex digital landscape was what initially led to a move away from human, panel-based measurement.

The result of which was an emphasis on device factors like scroll speed, ad length, time on screen and ad coverage. While these are drivers of attention, they can also contribute to ad distraction.

Meanwhile, creativity — when leveraged deterministically — can provide an understanding of how much attention a human has actually paid, and how to scale it.

The creative force

In today’s saturated digital ecosystem, attention is at a premium. And at the heart of earning this consumer attention lies creativity.

The importance of creativity has been known within digital advertising for a number of years, and various studies have proven this.

In fact, there’s as much as a 17% difference in brand recall between good creative and bad creative, and it’s well known that around two-thirds of media effectiveness is driven by creative.

What stats like this gloss over is the importance of platform appropriateness and the potential that’s left behind when great creative doesn’t make the most of the context, audience, environment and even device functionality.

The results can be significant — a recent study found that by optimising for the environment advertisers can increase ad attention by 49%. 

Brands should be placing their focus on the look and feel of their ads, and ensure that the creative they are serving resonates with their target audience, by customising and optimising the ads toward that audience through the use of historical behavioural data.

Driving attention

Though creativity is what keeps the blood pumping around the body of a campaign, it still requires the backing of a few other organs to drive consumer attention.

While there must be a shift away from viewability metrics, time in view is still an incredibly important part of capturing the attention of a user.

Quality time in view can be driven by ads being placed in premium environments, surrounded by quality content. Quality content leads to a slower scroll speed, higher engagement, and results in ads being in view for more than 12 seconds on average.

It’s only natural for humans to interact with the information that interests and is of some significance to them. And this is further proven by the fact that consumers who are engaged with the content surrounding an ad provide 600% more attention than they do on subcategory pages, and 160% more than on homepages.

Advertisers must also consider the contextual relevance of ads, as much as they consider the creative relevance. Placing ads around relevant content drives attention, while providing a better overall experience for the consumer.

Ads placed within a relevant context have been found to provide an 13% uplift of attentive seconds per 1,000, while contextually aligned ads also result in a 23% lift increase in memory of a particular ad.

A positive experience

The overall experience presented by sites has a significant impact on attention as well. Users are going to be more susceptible to ads that are delivered in high-quality environments that are not overrun with clutter.

One larger, more considered ad, as opposed to multiple smaller ads, is far more conducive for lasting memorisation.

Indeed, consumers appreciate it when their attention is earned, rather than them being forced to consume advertising. And being able to voluntarily view ads produces a higher impact on brand lift metrics, however long the consumer views an ad for.

Therefore, it’s just as important to use the right ad formats as it is to serve the high-quality, engaging ads that people want to see.

The industry’s collective desire to produce better outcomes is driving the shift toward attention metrics, and away from viewability.

Advertisers should be focused on planning campaigns that captivate audiences, and are measured against attention. By not considering all the levers of attention, you can end up limiting the effectiveness that your creative can have.

Focusing on creativity within the attention mix whilst campaign planning will give advertisers and publishers the opportunity to work together to create a better ad experience for consumers as well as deliver effective and sustainable digital advertising for the whole industry.

Amy China Wire, head of Teads Studio UK at Teads.

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