Why Attention Metrics Matter in 2024

Why Attention Metrics Matter in 2024

What is the significance of attention metrics in digital advertising? Benjamin Arnold, Adludio’s North American president, emphasizes real engagement measurement. Explore challenges, IAB Attention Council Task Force initiatives, and the call for a standardized attention metric. Optimize your strategy for 2024 success.

It’s no secret that advertisers and publishers alike are under immense pressure regarding how they accurately measure and report the success of their online campaigns. No longer looking exclusively at views or clicks, they are demanding more quality measures of engagement tied directly to business outcomes. This has precipitated a growing and conspicuous move toward more valuable metrics. In particular, attention. 

Over the past few years, the industry has been enthusiastic about attention measurement. If done meaningfully by demonstrating real interest and personal investment in a brand, attention can benefit nearly all actors within the advertising ecosystem. This includes creative teams making more deterministically impactful ads, media agencies deploying budgets more efficiently, and large and small publishers maximizing their brand investment and valuing their inventory. Everybody stands to gain. 

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that this buzz has led to another long-standing industry echo chamber. Arguably, the race is on to develop industry-standard attention metrics, which has resulted in significant variance in interpretations of attention. While these measurements are not without merit, existing metrics fail to capture the full essence of attention. This is reflected in a resistance to move from impressions to attention. If a competent and transparent attention metric is not devised soon, the lack of clarity surrounding attention threatens to undermine its whole value.

Given these high stakes, all constituencies must rally around educating and disseminating technical expertise attention to promptly and effectively seize the opportunity it presents. 

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Come together right now

The recently created IAB Attention Council Task Force is vital in this regard – dedicated to understanding what advertisers and publishers are looking to solve and how various attention solutions can achieve it. 

Producing best practices and technical guides concerning diverse approaches to measuring attention, the Task Force is delving into the solutions offered and providing crucial education on how marketers and publishers can effectively harness these solutions. However, ensuring that the measurement is tied to quality outcomes requires an understanding of how consumers engage with digital content at a level of granularity not previously seen, i.e., asking questions such as: “How much time has the user spent within the action areas of the ad?” and “Was the sound playing?” 

The best attention metrics will combine customer interactions and advanced Machine Learning techniques and optimize toward an attention metric to deliver the best possible result. Taking a step further, the most powerful attention solutions will be those that can view attention metrics derived from a very broad range of factors. These include bidding, publisher inventory, audience profiles, and the data directly associated with consumer actions. 

Indeed, technology is underpinning the path to a clear and widely palatable measure of attention. Creatives will, therefore, have to accept technology’s assistance in moving forward with attention. This may sound ominous to some in the industry – yet the reality is that creativity, having taken a backseat in the third-party cookie era, is about to take center stage again, thanks to the creative intelligence at its disposal. This data-led standard of attention finally offers the industry a way to effectively bridge the art and science of advertising.

What happens now is a really big deal

Attention could emerge as the most important thing we as an industry collectively track – if done correctly. Having a properly conceived and designed standard of attention, led by data science and AI, will yield better execution and results and dissolve the reluctance currently exhibited by some bodies towards it. 

Having access to actionable real-time attention data will be immensely valuable to brands, agencies, and smaller publishers. For example, as brands look to translate engagement into profit, the digital environments outside the walled gardens – where consumers still spend excessive time – will be well-placed to recapture more value. More importantly, it’s a chance to better the whole ecosystem and start serving ads optimized toward interaction, and don’t frustrate the user, but instead engage them. 

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That’s why leaders across the industry need to move fast, pushing for collective action and rapid development of the methodology and grounded research. While the IAB Attention Council Task Force spearheads the movement, it requires investment across the entire ecosystem to quantify and architect the right attention metric. Providing there is a collective focus on attention, I’m confident it will finally deliver on its promise, and every player in the space will be a winner.