Reach, frequency, delivery and ratings. For decades, the advertising industry has primarily traded against these time-honored metrics. But in essence, marketers use these metrics as proxies for something else more valuable — attention. In this era of big data, media fragmentation, ad avoidance and consumer messaging overload, it’s time to transact directly against attention, the metric that we all really care about.
Attention as a measurement metric has been gaining, well … real attention in media circles. Joe Marchese, president of advertising revenue at Fox Networks Group, speaking at a recent CIMM conference, advanced the idea, especially as it affects accurate attribution. “Attention is a currency. There is no attribution without attention,” he concluded.
Attention Measurement Challenges
If we are to transact against attention, then we need to accurately measure it first. And in this area, it has not been easy to find common ground.
In TV advertising, measuring attention has many criteria to consider. For years, Nielsen’s length-of-tune has been used as a proxy for the degree of attention paid to content. But the TV can be on, accruing length-of-tune, while we are otherwise un-engaged or absent. With the advent of smart TV data, the ability to determine actual television attention has become more precise. And more recently, eye-tracking technology, such as that from TVision Insights, has shown the ability to directly record TV viewership.
In digital advertising, publishers sometimes turn to metrics that indicate “time spent on page” via mouse or other keyboard movements. This makes the entire ad inventory supply chain vulnerable, as non-human fraud becomes all too easy to introduce. Recently, I wrote about several companies that are leading the way here while reaping the benefits of real-time attention.
Attention Measurement Solutions
The unique ways that newer companies are collecting certain types of real-time data are shedding light on how much attention is actually being paid to content and ads.
For example, in mobile, we have created a new way to measure attention: processing phone motion sensors to verify when an actual person is viewing the ad creative in real-time. This always-on phone sensor data can also indicate what activity is taking place and pinpoint motions that correlate to greater attention and ad delivery.
It’s time to stop transacting only against proxies for attention — such as reach — and get to the heart of the matter. The creation of a verifiable attention measurement metric is close at hand. With insightful uses of new and emerging datasets, marketers may find that attention is not only quantifiable, but can also become part of our established measurement currency. It’s time for digital advertising to “pay” attention.