Is anyone paying attention to a word you’re saying?

In January we published our first thought piece on combating attention scarcity and the strengths of different media channels, sparking considerable debate among readers (found here). In this follow up we are going to delve deeper into digital channels, unpacking the nuances of different types of activity and how we should measure “success”.

The first topic we need to address is viewability. In digital, the industry benchmark for viewability on a banner is 50% of the pixels in view for a minimum of 1 second. Would anyone have increased awareness or propensity to purchase seeing half an MPU for a second? Obviously not. The same goes for video where benchmarks are 2 seconds, if you see a random 2 seconds of an online video will that have any impact on your behaviour? The answer is to monitor KPIs that have a direct impact on business objectives by changing consumer behaviour. These include:

  • Using an attention tool like MOAT not only for stricter viewability criteria but also other factors such as ad clutter (If 3 ads are in view versus 2 attention quality halves (IAB)) and screen real estate
  • Brand lift studies. When these are done by the platforms themselves, we need to take them with a pinch of salt, but they are worthwhile as added value.
  • Create control groups. If you have an integrated offline campaign this may be hot housing. If it is a digital-only execution you could create random control groups and even segments with different frequency levels or format mix to measure impact.

To maximise quality attention for our clients display activity you could simply add a high viewability minimum to DSP campaigns, but this shortcut will lead to highly inflated CPMs and hugely reduced reach due to the way content viewability is determined at an aggregated level. We prefer to set mid-level viewability requirements and manually optimise campaigns by building blocklists based on low viewability and engagement rates. It is a never-ending slower process but offers much better value for money for clients.

Not all attention is equal

If someone watches a YouTube pre-roll in their living room on their 42” connected TV with sound on their message and brand recall will be much stronger than a social newsfeed video watched with no sound. Environment is one key factor, but another is context. The content the client’s video is embedded within or next to is crucial, the IAB say attention doubles in the right content. Not only does it enable relevance but also mindset either practical “I am looking to purchase X” or emotional “I feel compelled to take action on Y”. Serving the right tone of content, to the right person at the right time when they have the headspace and emotional availability is crucial to response. That is why serving content in premium environments is still so important, you are making your campaign synonymous with the brand equity that the publisher has.

So why aren’t we putting all upper digital investment into sound on environments? The advantage other formats have is that they are interactive on the same device with no need to dual-screen and people have established behaviour patterns to interact. Interactive formats such as Physics units from Adludio or in view triggered formats like in-read by Teads. Unlike non-skippable format which forces attention, these formats earn attention and Millward Brown say this increased awareness by up to 80%.

Size matters. Ads that take up more of the screen not only have higher viewability as you would expect, but also higher dwell time. So, using premium formats with creatives that have been tailored for the platform will increase effectiveness. Everyone knows you can’t just put a TV ad online, but surprisingly few actually tailor the story arc of content, depending on whether the ad is pre-roll or interactive in feed, but it’s well worth the extra investment.

It’s crucial to use audience insights to know on which channels we can reach key audience segments; younger audiences, in particular, are watching less and less linear and catch-up TV but the answer isn’t always just YouTube and Instagram. If you would like to discuss the opportunities with innovative formats to drive greater attention in your campaigns, contact me or your account lead.

By Ben Foster, Director of Digital at The Kite Factory