Dentsu Creates 'Attention' Metric For Media Planning And Buying

The advertising industry has realized that “device metrics,” that were proxies for attention as well as standards like viewability do not necessarily equate to a true “opportunity to see,” according to Joanne Leong, vice president of global media partnerships at dentsu international. 

New findings from dentsu international research show that human attention is not the same as viewability, which is why the agency believes advertisers must plan and buy media using a new metric it calls Attention.

“Two distinctions drive attention, and things that drive the value of attention,” Leong said. 

She pointed to factors contributing to a greater likelihood that someone looks at an ad for longer to explain the concept. Factors like viewable time, whether the attention was forced or earned, duration, and device. 

“There are factors that contribute to the value of attention too, which basically means there are certain factors that explain why five seconds of attention in one set of circumstances translate to more recall or choice than five seconds of attention in another,” she said. “The number one driver of that value is creative.”

Dentsu’s latest research, Unlocking the Currency of Attention, details large-scale eye-tracking panels that builds on the agency’s attention metrics model. The agency worked with Lumen Research, TVision, and Amplified intelligence for independent studies, and began measuring attention in March 2018, collaborating with Facebook, Spotify, Snap, Teads, Yahoo and Broadcasters and Tech platforms

Multiple brand studies in the U.S., UK, and Australia combined eye-tracking technology with choice and recall measures to understand the drivers of attention. The research shows that higher dwell times are associated with a greater likelihood to choose a brand’s advertising, but not all attention is equal.

Turns out the difference between good creative and poor creative can impact recall by 17%. After creative, the other key drivers are volition, sound, duration, and audience.

The results shed light on several insights such as viewability and other device measures are arbitrary proxies for real attention. In many cases, the percent of viewable impressions reported are higher than the percent of ads that get attention.

  • Creative is the biggest driver of attention. The difference between strong and poor performing creative drives the largest shift in outcomes compared to other factors.
  • Duration is correlated with higher levels of attention, but shorter video ads can be much more affective.
  • The impact of sound can be dependent on whether it is expected by the consumer to be part of the platform experience.
  • The new metrics for planning drives increased value. For one client, reoptimizing toward attention gained 3.7 years of extra attention in one month at the same budget vs original plan that was optimized toward Reach and Frequency.

Combining factors like attention, dwell time, and the outcome model with cost allowed Denstu to create a CPM based on an “effective attentive second” specific to various media circumstances. This new metric for planning captures not just attention, but the impact and value of that attention that can vary depending on the platform and media experience.

To validate the value of attention, Dentsu looked at the relationship between attention and brand recall and brand choice, and saw a pretty strong relationship across them.

“The higher the likelihood of someone looking at an ad the better the chance it has of working,” she said. “Understanding that relationship, we then built our model of attention to incorporate the effectiveness component by looking at what factors drive recall and choice so that when we plan against attention, we aren’t just skewing to longer ads with higher dwell times, but taking into account, as mentioned above, the power and value of each attentive second.”


5 comments about "Dentsu Creates 'Attention' Metric For Media Planning And Buying".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 19, 2021 at 5:46 p.m.

    Very interesting, Laurie, and it's good to see an ad agency paying more attention to attentiveness---no pun intended. However, attentiveness is hardly a new concept. As We chronicle in our annual report, "TV Dimensions 2021", the first study of TV audience attentiveness---using cameras that captured eyes-on-screen behavior under real life, at-home, viewing situations took place way back in 1957. Since then there have been quite a few observational studies along these lines and now we have TVision in theU.S. with its 5000 home panel giving us tons of eyes-on-screen data.

    There has been a push recently to calculate CPMs based on attentive time spent with ads and, judging by your fine report, it seems that Dentsu buys into this. I think that the core  idea that all attentive seconds are of equal value is flawed as it doesn't take into account the way commercials are usually fashioned. Most of them are telling a story---in effect, a sequential sales pitch. In this context  if a person "watches" only three seconds of a 30-second commercial these may have virtually no value in terms of registering the brand's name or, more important, getting the basic selling message across. In contrast, watching 10 or 15 seconds of the same commercialmay be just enough to do just that while watching 25-30 seconds is even more effective.

    I think that we need more research to develop dwell time effectiveness threshold values to account for getting the story to consumers. It may be that none of the three seconds of exposure in my example, above, has real value while those in a 10-15 viewing sequence have , say, 75% value and those in a 25-30 second attentiveness experience have 100% value. If we can determine what these breaks are----and this will take time and lots of research---we may be able to calculate attentiveness CPMs on a more realistic basis.

  2. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, October 19, 2021 at 9:46 p.m.

    Laurie, interestingly, I have been tracking individual sweepstakes by way of total click through entries from the beginning in 2003. Sweepstakes and contests clicks, not views or seconds of attention of the ads are the best of all worlds for the ad agencies and advertisers.  The real goal shouldn''t be "seconds" viewing a ad but the click through to the advertiser's page and then to secure contact information and a sale. 
    The goals are way too low. Why? With online advertising with programmatic, the flaw is the belief that only digital solution that works is programmatic. The idea that a human you writes and create an ad and distributed such as I do with sweepstakes, is repulsive and blocked or strongly suggested to block by some in advertising. However history proves that security and results are the highest when a humans are involved. 

     The real question for the advertisers is whether you want a unpredicatable programmatic ad placement or, human to directly create, manage and distribute the ad that has far greater security and produces greater results and the same or low cost. So what do you want? a human or a algorithm to do the work?

  3. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., October 20, 2021 at 12:38 p.m.

    Vey well said and well documented, Ed!!!

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 20, 2021 at 1:53 p.m.

    Thanks, Kevin.

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, October 20, 2021 at 7:59 p.m.

    Spot on Ed.

    Back when TV was king in the 1990s, a quasi-proxy of 'attentiveness' could be derived by dividing the average minute audience into the programme reach.

    If the average audience of a programme was 8m and the reach was 10m, then the 'factor' was 0.8.   If that was stacked up against a programme that had average audience of 4.5m with the reach of 5m then the 'factor' was 0.9.   The chance of your ad being 'seen' was higher.

    It wasn't the sharpest tool (be aware that the longer the programme the lower the factor will be) but it was handy and helped with buying efficiency.   It wasn't 'attention' per se but it seemed to be a good correlate.

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