Cannes Conversation: DAN's Doug Ray Commands 'Attention'

CANNES, FRANCE — Doug Ray wants your attention. The U.S. Chairman of Media at Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) is helping spearhead the group’s new Attention Economy project to determine whether it is possible to measure attention.

And if so, the ways to practically implement this metric into media buying and planning. "We want a new industry metric we can plan and trade upon."

There is opportunity in capturing attention, since viewability is incomplete on its own. Half of pixels on a screen for a few seconds is considered to be a view, but this doesn’t actually measure whether a person is paying attention.

The initiative involves all of Dentsu Aegis Network’s media brands: Carat, Vizeum, dentsu X, iProspect and Amplifi. This team partnered with the leading academic researcher on attention to track the eye movements of 3,400 individuals watching ads in the U.S., UK and Australia.



The study found that two in 10 ads are entirely ignored, with TV, on average, the most ignored channel. Viewability is not the same as attention, says Ray.

Their findings are now helping to establish a new definition of attention and assess whether a measure can be found that works consistently across video platforms — something no other company has achieved to date.

The second phase of the project will delve deeper into an array of channels and explore the impact of audio and creative on attention. DAN will also work with media owners and clients to further understand their preferred areas of focus.

This Attention initiative is just one ambitious part of Ray's broader transformation plan. He is also “rationalizing” the DAN portfolio of media agencies to accelerate and streamline operations. The goal is to ensure clear differentiation and focus for each.

Similarly, Ray is installing a new operational team to eliminate duplication and seek consistency across platforms.

“There is a difference between the brands and the business," he says, explaining the role of the central hub is to support the various agency brands. One example of this central hub is the company's M1 data and personalization/precision targeting platform, which now underpins DAN’s media operation.

M1 is not owned by any individual brand, says Ray, noting Carat now uses M1 for planning across all its clients.

Further, the majority of DAN’s largest clients are utilizing this data-centric platform, often combined with their own first-party data.


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