This New Council Deserves Your Attention

The Attention Council delivered an intriguing workshop addressing, “Attention Measurement in Creative Development Testing” with a stellar lineup of international industry leaders. Implications for media were also evident.  

This relatively new organization, headed by CEO, Andy Brown, has ambitious plans to drive attention measurement to the forefront of advertising and media research for not only creative development, but also for media currencies and outcome metrics.

The council is currently building “Founder” membership and has formed working groups to support the efforts. Collaboration with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and its Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement in the U.S. is already being pursued.  

Attention can be interpreted and measured based on several drivers, all of which are important to a brand’s creative impact, depending on objectives.  

System1 Group Chief Innovation Officer Orlando Wood suggested brand building via wit, charm, and entertaining creative executions – right brain, “people oriented” elements – requires relatively increased investment.

Conversely, this is versus brand sales and/or performance executions – left brain, “narrow beam things” elements.  

Wood has written two books on the subject of creativity and measurement (“Look Out” and “Lemon”).  He noted that the nature of attention has changed significantly over the past 20 to 30 years.

Legendary ad man Bill Bernbach, once said, “If your ad goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”

While an underpinning to media currencies based on “eyes-on” (or ears-on) measurement, Kantar Senior Director of Creative & Media Solutions Duncan Southgate emphasized that “eye gaze” on creative was a key to brand endorsement.  

Southgate opined that along with time actually viewed (rather than merely rendered on a screen), eye gaze has been found to be a better sales predictor. 

Kantar has also learned that comprehensive attention measurement becomes more important when understanding an ad in context.  These measures can include facial coding expressiveness.  Remember the TV show, “Lie To Me?”

Reaffirming and old adage, Ameritest Founder Chuck Young underlined the multiplier effect of above average creative.  He also stressed the fundamental importance of ad exposure on the target group (eyes/ears-on):  “Ads need to be seen to leave branded memories.”

He noted the value of “involving, enjoyable, entertaining, and different,” creative elements.  

Young’s concept of a “spotlight” related to attention to the ad is brilliant.  “Grab it.  Hold it.  Focus it.”  

Mars Global Insights Director Sorin Patilinet brought a practical dimension to the review of attention, emotions, and memory.  For Mars high attention is a verifiable marker for high ad impact:  “Grab it at the start and do not waste a second.”  

Echoing System1’s Wood, generating positive emotions early and throughout an ad is fundamental for their brands.  Making an ad easy for the viewer to follow using frequent brand imagery has also been proven effective.

Mars uses attention measurement researcher Real Eyes to support “always-on,” real-time behavioral research versus surveys, so it can make timely workflow adjustments via in-flight attention measurement.  

However, Ameritest’s Young stressed the importance of surveys to measure an array of ad elements to predict “ground truth” and understand an ad’s “resonance.”

 Both speakers agreed AI already is helping to dissect and subsequently model the tsunami of data that can be collected on ads.  

As attention measures will surely have profound value for both creative and media, perhaps VideoAmp Chief Measurability Officer Josh Chasin should have the last word?  

Chasin defined what he saw as the difference between a media currency and a creative impact metric at the ARF’s recent Audiencexscience Conference.  “If attention measures based on ads is driven primarily by creative, it should not be used as a media metric.  Attention measures for media content adjacent to ads should be used as the media currency.”  

Stay tuned for The Attention Council’s Working Groups to make their recommendations on attention measures regarding quality standards, media currencies and also ROI/outcomes metrics.

1 comment about "This New Council Deserves Your Attention".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 19, 2022 at 5:29 p.m.

    Thanks, for that helpful recap, Tony.

    With all due respect, I beg to differ with Josh on the use of attentiveness as being an either or between media and advertising research. If attentiveness was built into the TV rating system it would tell us with far greater certainty who is watching a particular program---not only when the channel is first selected--- as in the people meter method--- but, far more important, who is watching---with eyes-on-screen----at any given  moment while the program unfolds---including the ads.

    What we have now asks a people meter panel member who happens to be there at the time a channel is selected  to indicate whether he/she is "watching" the program and  also to tell the system about any cessation of "viewing" caused by leaving the room or simply paying no attention, engaging in other activities, etc. In the absence of such notifications the system assumes that the claimed program viewer is "watching"every second of content until the channel is changed---when the whole process starts all over again.

    Needless to say, few panel members follow these instructions---about indicating times when they are not "watching"---hence the system tells us that absence from the room and other manifestations of inattention are very minor and that anywhere from 92-97 % of those who claim to be program viewers "watch" every second of content---this despite some on-screen prompts encouraging panel members to note when they are no longer viewing. This makes little sense.

    As has been demonstrated by many observational studies, a substantial percentage of program viewers do leave the room from time to time  and many get distracted or cease paying attention----especially to commercials. So, yes, we need attentiveness in our TV rating surveys. We also need attentiveness for advertising research --- probabby involving  metrics such as dwell time and second by second eye traffic, to a much greater extent.

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