Planning for Attention

In this month’s episode, Christian and Lydia sit down to discuss the theory and findings from our latest insight report and how marketeers can use attention to inform media investment decisions. Download the report here.


Hi. You’re listening to Unmudeled, a podcast from the Kite Factory media. In each episode we take a topic from the world of marketing media and simply Unmuddle it, giving you the key information you need to know. I’m Christian Taylor, head of planning. And today day I’m joined by Lydia Martin, a media strategist. Hi. Hi Lydia. And today we’re going to be discussing the topic of attention. It’s a really hot topic right now. It’s essentially UK adults. What we’re seeing is media consumptions continue to rise. If you look at all of the headlines over the past decade, we’re spending more and more time-consuming media and we’re doing that across more platforms than ever before. And of course, our advertisers are also increasing our media spend as well. So it’s outpacing inflation. All of these factors are making up what we’re calling in the industry, the attention economy. And right now, attention is a scarce commodity and it’s prized by brands of all sizes. Lydia, welcome to the podcast. Can you just give us a brief introduction why you think attention is increasingly on the agenda for marketers and media planners right now? Yeah, of course. I think you alluded to it there in the intro. But a big part of the topic I think, when it comes to media planning and marketing is around the changes in and the diversification of our media consumption over recent years. So this has come out in recent findings from the IPA. So in the latest Making Sense report we saw that the percentage of time that people spend on digital media versus offline has swung for the first time towards digital consumption. And that is obviously where we have a much more diverse and fragmented landscape for consumption and so on is really heightening that topic for us now. Yeah, it’s become a real focus area and put a real spotlight on digital media. And specifically, there’s been some interesting studies in the industry recently, you may have read them. There was one by Lumin and Ubiquity. Together they looked at a paper called The Challenge of Attention. Lydia, can you tell us a little bit about the methodology of that and what were the findings of that report? Yes, really interesting report and definitely worth a read for anyone who hasn’t seen it. So Lumin have done some fantastic, really sort of sophisticated scientific work into attention using eye and head tracking to identify where and when people are paying attention while consuming media. So they do this by a kind of eye tracking camera that is attached to a laptop or TV and kind of monitors where on screen people’s eyes are gaze is landing, so they measure it that way. You touched on eye tracking there and obviously that gives us a really good comparison. The report itself I think, actually compares TV to a number of other digital platforms in terms of the attention that it holds and how many attentive seconds. And it gives us a composite metric which you can use across different platforms to compare them, which has been a sort of seminal approach to understanding attention across different media platforms itself. So you touched on one of the ways of measuring attention is eye tracking. Let’s just discuss what the pros and cons from that from a media planning perspective. Yeah, so I think the key thing is you mentioned it. It gives us like a composite metric. It’s a scientific method of measuring attention. So it relies on gaze, I suppose, which we know is a big part of attention. I suppose on the flip side to that, there are cons in the sense that attention is more holistic than just physical gaze. We know there’s this concept of inattentional blindness where you can fail to notice something when it’s fully visible to you because you’re distracted or measurement report. Yeah, it’s a really complicated topic. Right. So not everything you look at, actually we pay attention to, we are complex beasts. And one of the areas that is obviously really important within media and advertising within the studies, is behavioural economics. So there’s been some really interesting studies about attention which have been within that area. Lydia, you’ve actually released a report recently called Planning for Attention here at the Kite Factory. Can you tell us a little bit about the methodology you took and how you applied it to planning for attention? Yeah, of course. So obviously, Lumen have done neuronsite and other scientific studies have done amazing work. We wanted to find a way of approaching the topic using our own planning tools and kind of leaning on, as you mentioned, behavioural economics to understand attention a bit better. And we took kind of inspiration in this from a study in The Choice Factory. The book by Richard Shotton looks at the percentage of Ads recalled by users when they were stressed versus when they were relaxed, which found that 36% of Ads were remembered when people were stressed versus higher 56% when people were relaxed. So knowing that attention is typically better when people are in that more relaxed unconscious state, we used Touch Points, which is a planning tool we have available at the Kite Factory for planning and identified the time that people spend across an average day while they are either relaxed or doing nothing in particular. So kind of matching up that kind of unconscious attentive state to track data that we have available through Touch points. And we map that time against a number of different channels, media channels, to work out where we thought attention was highest across different platforms, age and kind of time of day and day of week as well. Great. So your approach gave us a useful tool for understanding which channels have higher attention or not. What were some of the key findings that you found in that approach? Yeah, a few really interesting things came out of that report. So when we just looked at the percentage of Attentive time that people spend on different channels. There are a couple of channels that came up really high and that was a bit of a surprise to us. So the percentage that was most attentive appeared across Tik tok YouTube and Snapchat versus TV was lower and particularly lower compared to BBOD as well. So it throws up some interesting questions and challenges for us around TV planning and where attention is highest in broadcast board versus TV. We also found that digging into that insight around Snapchat, that Snapchat actually drives one of the highest percentages of overall Attentive time. When we map that against age, we found that largely came from the 18 to 24 demographic and that after that age group the Attentive time with Snapchat really drops off. So some interesting insights around where certain channels are most impactful for attention in what points in life. Great. And it makes sort of intuitive sense, right? So these sort of digital based video entertainment platforms are normally consumed on your mobile. You’re very likely to be doing it in a moment when you’ve got full attention based on it. So we can start applying these learnings to our planning, but also thinking about what that means for a relative cost per thousand, for example, across different platforms. So really useful insights that we can start to apply to planning for attention. What are some of the challenges that we face when planning for attention currently in terms of our report or more generally? More generally, I guess there are a few things. I mean, measurement is obviously a big part of it. We have no way of unless we’re using eye tracking, there’s no kind of scientific way to validate attention in the media that we’re activating. And I think the digital consumption aspect that we’ve talked about, the topic of attention does kind of lend itself more to digital. So particularly when it comes to offline channels and above the line on TV, radio and so on, that is particularly challenging to measure attention for. Yeah, I think what we’re seeing really is this real challenges, there’s no universal metric really, is there? Sort of across and until media owners start to adopt the concept of attention, it’s really difficult to buy on an attention basis. So we’re still buying cost per thousands, we’re still buying opportunities to see, opportunities to hear and applying those are quite difficult. Yeah, completely. And the other thing, of course, is the impact of creative in media, which shouldn’t be underestimated. So a large part of attention will of the amount of attention that we will capture with audiences will fit with the creative. So taking that into consideration when media planning is super important as well. Brilliant. So I think we’ve covered the topic broadly. So give us some of your recommendations. If you were to sort of start thinking about planning for attention tomorrow, how would you go about doing this? So first of all, it’s probably worth maybe just proposing some business cases or scenarios where the topic is particularly important I think based on what we found. So for example, if you’re an advertiser or brand that is new to the market, you’re kind of smaller scale or you’re a challenger brand with lower awareness. Attention is going to be particularly important in the wider context of the sort of diversification and fragmentation of media as well as any activity where sort of hard to reach or niche audiences are really key or in fact younger demographics. So we know again from the latest IPA Making Sense, to report that 18 to 34 are particularly hard to reach for attention. So again, if they’re your target, then attention is really something to start to consider wherever you can in your media planning. And I guess in terms of recommendations, I mean you said it’s a hugely complex topic and there are many ways to come at it. We obviously know that Lumen have done amazing scientific research. So anyways of using that or testing using Lumen test is definitely a great way to go alongside that. We’ve obviously come at it from more of a mood situational context angle. So considering some of our findings in where we think where and when people are less and more likely to be attentive and can help shape media plans as well and I think again creative as well to support with all of that sort of media planning for attention. There are proven ways with creative that you can lift ad recall and availability. Things like personalizing creative wherever possible using kind of brand assets or sonic branding. These are increasingly things that I think advertisers are using in general and you see them in ads every day. So that can really help alongside what we have available to us immediately for planning as well. Excellent. So we’ve touched on why it’s becoming increasingly important topic. We know that attention is a scarcity and something that we should be looking to try and plan for. Just to distill down what some of our key things are from our conversation today. So I think what’s really important is that we take both a top down and a bottom up approach. And what we mean by that is looking at situational context which is you can take all your learnings from the report that Lydia has recently shared, but also a bottom up approach which is ensuring that you’ve got the measurement in place to understand which of your channels have greater attention than others. Again, these solutions are currently available in the marketplace and more importantly, we’re really encouraging our clients to take a test and learn approach. So isolating tests which will prove the impact of higher attention channel than others. So that concludes our podcast for today. You’ve been listening to Unmuddled by The Kite Factory. See you in the next episode.