Do I Have Your 'Attention?'

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 21, 2021

Attention measurement and metrics stole the show during the first day of the ARF’s annual Audience x Science Conference along with the whole topic of streaming and video measurement consumption across devices.   

If you have not been fully aware of The Attention Council (TAC), or perhaps companies like Lumen, TVision, or Adelaide I predict you are going to be paying much more attention to them soon.

In addition to the intriguing presentations from these three companies at the ARF event, the big news, released today, is that Andy Brown, the former CEO of Kantar Media has been named the first CEO of TAC.  

Michael Follett, managing director of Lumen Research and Yan Liu, CEO & co-founder of TVision, reviewed their ground-breaking research on "eyes-on" and attention, plus their newly coined "aCPM," or cost-per-thousand-attentive-seconds metric.  This joint work underlined that attentive duration viewing ads matters to sale conversions; and that the proportion of attentive seconds against basic impressions, differ widely by media platform.  



When assessed against ad spot costs to establish aCPM’s, the differences between platforms is startling.  Is anyone surprised?  As revealed, many platforms do not earn Eyes-On or attentive impressions for even 2 seconds, the minimum standard established by the Media Rating Council (MRC).  So, should we anticipate a review of MRC standards?  

But more news was to be released.  TVision announced its “attention calculator”, which will be free to users and which charts CPMs by media platform against aCPMs (cost per thousand seconds of attention) together with the opportunity to play with the variables.  As their presentation title reflected, the industry needs to better understand the true differences and cost of attention across all media.  

Marc Guldimann, co-founder and CEO of Adelaide and co-founder of TAC, stressed the complexity of understanding how the quality of media, the quality of the creative and the relevance of the target audience intermingle and contribute differently to any ad attention measures.  In doing so I believe he supported my long-held contention that “attention,” as critical as it is to the brand advertiser, is not a media measure per se.  

Streaming also took center stage with James Lamberti, CMO of Conviva.  He offered that a census (or single source) of standardized streaming data at a continuous session level with suitable controls by publishers, strict privacy controls for both publishers and the consumer, based on secure interoperable IDs, is the opportunity to move beyond legacy video measurement systems.  Promising? Certainly.  

Together with Steven Millman, senior vice president-global research & operations at Dynata, Lamberti reviewed the segmentation analysis of streamers.  It revealed that generally streamers are dissatisfied with the levels of ad repetition and the numbers of ads in a break.  Likely not too different from linear TV viewers although Millman did suggest that there are opportunities with an “untapped potentials” streaming group.  

If streaming needs a reset on advertising as posited, target reach and frequency, context, technical quality of exposure and privacy remain the keys.  However, I agree that the differences between subscription and ad permitted streamers will change the revenue models.  

Conviva was endorsed by Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president-measurement & impact at NBCU during her keynote presentation which challenged the industry to seek measurement independence and freedom from legacy thinking.  This is poetic coming from a former Nielsen employee.

By embracing and integrating a suite of solutions via consumer centric companies, and focusing on opportunities rather than existing measurement problems, Abcarian believes it will be possible to create a premium video publisher data eco-system to compete with the data from social media’s Google, Facebook, etc.  

To ensure validation and calibration of data accuracy across data sets used Abcarian has embraced Truth{set} as well as a company named, Dumbstruck.  The latter will help understand emotional impact and what drives people.  It uses facial expression recognition and AI to do this.  Reminds one of “Lie to Me," which however, was a show that ran on Fox.  

With NBCU rendered on over 300 distribution points in the US and the rapid evolution of distribution technologies one must agree that a measurement revolution needed.  Maybe Kelly has been talking to “Lie to me” star Tim Roth to see if her expression is right?

This ARF Conference continues virtually Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  

7 comments about "Do I Have Your 'Attention?'".
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  1. Stephanie Hadley from TVision, September 21, 2021 at 12:01 p.m.

    Thanks Tony! Anyone interested in trying out the free attention calculator can do so at 

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 21, 2021 at 5:21 p.m.

    Stephanie, I just looked at your calculator and find it very interesting---even though I don't buy the premise that time spent attentively is a fair way to compare media ads in terms of CPMs. If a TV viewer devotes 14 seconds to watching a TV "30" that gives the message enough time to make a sale---in my humble opinion. If the corresponding figure for, say, social media ads is only one or two seconds then I don't think that such ads will be convincing or effective relative to their TV counterparts. I would not rate them as equal to any 1-2 seconds of TV commercial attentive time. Nevertheless, I strongly support the need for attentiveness research in the design for a new national TV rating service.

    One question. While I think I understand why you folks left out radio---it's not a visual medium---why not include magazines--which I think have a very strong case to make regarding advertising interest?

  3. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, September 22, 2021 at 1:55 a.m.

    What methods did the MRC use to come up with its 2sec. standard?

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 22, 2021 at 7:53 a.m.

    James, I suspect that they merely adopted the IAB's seller-friendly definition of ad exposure for digital video.

  5. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group replied, September 22, 2021 at 9:31 a.m.

    Thanks Ed.

  6. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, September 22, 2021 at 3:58 p.m.

    My understanding is that the MRC did indeed adapt the IAB's 2 second standard albeit for  "viewable impressions" NOT Eyes-On or Attention measures. Perhaps George Ivie will confirm?
    Regarding the TVision Attention Calculator:
    Joanne Leong, Dentsu, in her presentation "What are the Drivers of Attention", at ARF AUDIENCExSCIENCE Conference yesterday threw more light on attention, dwell time and its effects.  Her research showed that Eyes-On dwell time drives recall and choice uplift but that it follows dimishing returns after about 15 seconds on the platforms measured; noting that attention gets to "effective exposure".  She also recognised that say, 3-5 seconds of attention on one platform can have different levels of effect versus another - "context" or "environment"?  Lumen worked with Dentus on this research who will have further insights on this arena, different platforms and different creative executions. 

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 22, 2021 at 5:05 p.m.

    Tony, I'm glad to see that the folks at Dentsu recognize that three seconds of visual exposure in one situation may not have the same value as three seconds of visual esposure in another situation---which is a basic flaw in the concept of calculating CPMs against seconds of attentive exposure as if they all have equal impact value. They don't---the approach is too simplistic. Most ad messages tell a story or make a sequential sales pitch with a beginning, a middle and an end. There must be a variable weight to be applied that accepts the concept of a threshold of effective communication for ads in each medium and of various durations. This is not an easy thing to delve into so the formula simply ignores it and, in effect, counts all seconds equally. In reality it may be that 1-3 seconds of exposure to a TV "30" have zilch impact while 4-6 seconds is valued at, say 50% , 7-10 seconds at 85% and after that all are worth 100%. Or there may be a curve effect, with the 25-30th seconds being of somewhat lessened impact. We simply don't know. But of one thing I'm pretty sure---attentive seconds are not all equal in value---it doesn't make sense in the context of how ad messages are presented to audiences..

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