The media placement grabs attention. The creative keeps attention

Media grabs attention but creative keeps attention

Trading media on reach, viewability and view through metrics has no consideration for advertising clutter, which is why so much media are now cluttered.


When academics, adtech and media folks come together, beautiful things happen. That’s what we are living and breathing with The Attention Economy.

Whether you are on the Attention bus or not, it has created a transitional moment for media measurement and effectiveness, fueled by groundbreaking work from Karen Nelson Field, Mike Follett and others.

It’s making us more perceptive. Ad land has, for years, been blinded by dogma legacy metrics such as reach and viewability and Attention has given our industry the gift of sight, allowing advertisers to find clusters of cross-channel ad exposures that people actually look at with the human eye, and proven to drive effectiveness.

Karen Nelson Field’s recent article in The Media Leader covered an important learning around media platforms driving attention with creative implications, through the lens of attention elasticity. In short, the media platform is the driver of attention, over creativity, a learning that corroborates with 15 months of attention research, models and experimentation at Mediahub, that we have been running with Lumen.

Creativity has always been the most powerful economic multiplier. When brands show up with emotionally charged meaningful creative, people lean in with attention. We have learned that digital advertising is the exception, where creativity has moderate to no impact on grabbing attention. In our experience, Media placement grabs attention and creativity keeps attention.

Nelson-Field’s “Why this is happening” covered smart theory but didn’t touch on the media reasons, that is systemic of media owner and publisher incentives. Understanding this has vast trading and media owner yield implications, particularly to address the ad revenue gap caused by the post cookieless world.

Why is this happening? (With my media hat on) 

Our Mediahub attention research reinforces that people are creatures of habit. They seek to hunt down content not ads and publishers structure their content in templated structured ways to make it easy for them to find content in a familiar way, which makes absolute sense. We have run brilliant creative, good, moderate and poor creative with placement as a consistent factor across our suite of clients with limited variability of attention.

Media owners have always been incentivised by accepted industry currency. We started with reach as an accepted currency. Then we realised that reach wasn’t a consistent predictor for client outcomes. The viewability plaster emerged. We then realised that viewability pixels firing have no bearing if people were looking at ads or not.

Whether it’s TV Ratings, powering through news feeds, surfing content on news sites or watching a True View video for instance, media ad revenue is driven by templated ads solutions that meet the needs of the masses.

Trading media on reach, viewability and view through metrics has no consideration for advertising clutter, which is why we see so many environments that are cluttered with UGC, content and ads. And then we’re not surprised that it’s those environments that struggle to deliver attention for advertising.

To that end, another predictor for attention is page clutter. Our research shows that page clutter has a direct impact on attention. Ad environments with high clutter (content and ads) struggle to gain attention and vice versa. As the industry adopts attention optimisation levers, we will see media investment flowing towards fewer and cleaner ad environments that are being seen and driving client outcomes.

So, if ad clutter and habit are the leading drivers of attention, we need to focus on grabbing attention by optimizing away from ad clutter and towards habitual eye gaze zones, which are all driven by the media placement and not the creative.

What do new incentives look like for media owners in the era of Attention?

As cookies deprecate, media owners are pivoting into new ways to monetise their audiences through advertising that will fill the gap left by identity and audience targeting fallout.

The good news about attention is that it’s cookieless and legislation proof — no personally identifiable information (PII), cookies or identifiers are used. We have proven attention to drive brand and sales outcomes validated against an audience, which skips a step of granular audience targeting — handy in a world without cookies.

The new-age economic multiplier for brands is attention and media owners should be rewarded with expansive yields for delivering on eye-gaze attention. We point our tactical planning and algorithms towards high attention placements that are proven to drive brand effect and lower funnel metrics. What we have found is a balance of pricing. In some cases, the media owners have under-priced high attention placements. Conversely, ads that aren’t being seen are overpriced, in the context of attention value.

Media owners clearly need to reimagine pricing and yield with their attention goggles on. As the ad industry continues to reset post-cookie deprecation, this is the perfect time for media owners to reassess and clean up ad placements — focusing on ad placements that drive attention and dropping old stuffy formats that struggle to grab attention. For example, removing ad placements  stuck at the top or right of content where people don’t look and redistributing ad placements in and around content to catch eye balls.

Most importantly, reimagining the balance between content, UGC and advertising clutter to maximise eye gaze attention on advertising.

Fewer, cleaner, better ads with more sell side yield.

Erfan Djazmi is senior vice-president, director of P3 (data, technology & platforms) at IPG media agency Mediahub





Media Jobs