The Attention Dimension: Why SSPs see value in attention metrics

In search of a better way to optimize media spend in line with KPIs, brands have gravitated toward outcomes-based attention metrics—but they’re not the only ones. SSPs looking to provide best-in-class digital ad experiences for their advertising and publisher partners are also seeking more accurate and comprehensive media metrics.

To equip its clients with next-level quality insights that empower both brands and publishers to make better media decisions, Kargo became the first SSP to measure its marketplace inventory using third-party attention-based media quality ratings. To do this, it turned to Adelaide’s attention-based metric, AU, which predicts the likelihood of attention to advertising and subsequent impact on brand outcomes.

Adelaide CEO Marc Guldimann sat down with Kargo’s CEO, Harry Kargman, to discuss what this partnership means for Kargo, other SSPs, and publishers seeking to understand attention across their properties—and the advertising industry.

What drove your initial interest in attention metrics?

Digital marketing is unique in that there are so many metrics that advertisers can use to gauge advertising effectiveness. However, many of these metrics are binary, measuring a single quality indicator. Take viewability for example — brands rely on it, but it doesn’t tell the full story. While it might help you understand a placement’s opportunity to be seen, it won’t reflect whether your brand message actually captured attention or how valuable that placement is based on its contribution to outcomes. Even if an ad is 100% in view and successfully activated, there is no way to know if it ever captured attention.

Kargo’s belief that brands need to use a combination of quality signals to truly illustrate campaign success is what sparked our interest in attention metrics. We are always looking for innovative ways to provide additional insights around media quality and performance to our brands.

Also, in today’s attention-based economy, brands need to stand out and be bold to stay top of mind. At Kargo, we’ve proven this concept through thought leadership studies, but attention metrics provide more opportunities for brands to optimize toward efficient and attentive media that is currently undervalued by the market.

Interesting. Can you elaborate on the previous work you’ve done with attention?

We commissioned a research study in 2019, Viewability vs Memorability, which measured the correlation between an ad’s time on screen and recall metrics. What we found was an inverse relationship, meaning that traditional, standard “highly viewable” ads did not attract users’ attention. Instead, ads that were visually interesting with clear messaging and strong CTAs were the most likely to capture sustained attention and lead to better memory metrics. The ability of consumers to recall a brand’s messaging is critical to driving ROI, especially in an age where shopping choices are unlimited.

Now, with Adelaide, we are measuring AU across all the media Kargo buys. AU measurement has allowed us to identify trends that inform campaign planning and optimization, establish benchmarks, uncover areas where brands are capturing efficient attention, and equip our clients with another layer of quality and control.

What’s your advice for advertisers looking to get their feet wet with attention?

Advertisers need to put themselves in the shoes of consumers. Does your creative generate attention among consumers? Does your message resonate?  Are you staying top of mind and leveraging the best creative formats to get consumers leaned in? Kargo has seen success among brands that contextually align their campaigns with editorial content, making connections for the consumer. For example, if someone is reading about the top cities to visit and is served an ad for a hotel chain, there is a high likelihood the ad will capture attention and promote action. The most important aspect for brands is to ensure that their creative, messaging, targeting, KPIs, and measurement tactics align with the goals they are trying to achieve.

Brands have relied heavily on blunt metrics like VCR and viewability to measure success. While these metrics are easy to understand and optimize toward, they are not proxies for media quality or effectiveness.

Advertisers considering attention as an alternative should focus on attention metrics that are multi- dimensional, encapsulating numerous factors that impact a placement’s ability to capture and hold attention—viewability, scroll velocity, engagement rate, creative strength, and placement size and position, for example. It is also important that these metrics are evidence-based—proven, through controlled experiments, to predict the business outcomes advertisers seek. With a multi-pronged approach, attention metrics can help advertisers measure the likelihood of success in driving revenue to a brand’s bottom line. 

Advertising and consumers share a common thread—they are both complicated. Attention metrics have the power to level-up the work we’ve done as an industry thus far to improve measurement, outcomes, and optimization by providing a view into areas that are often overlooked, such as creative.

What’s next for Kargo and attention metrics?

A focus for us in 2022 is investing in attention innovation—using AI and data science to build the tools and technology for brands to buy on a cost per second basis. We are also doubling down efforts in our design innovation lab, creating new ad formats designed to capture attention.

Our goal is to become the leader in attention media. We know how important the evolution of attention is to the industry, with partners like Dentsu Aegis investing in the attention economy and the MMA releasing its one-second attention research. Through our partnership with Adelaide, we can now measure media attentiveness across all Kargo properties, helping publishing and advertising clients make the most out of their campaigns and unlock a new level of insight into media quality. We have already seen great interest and can’t wait for our partnership to develop and grow.

How do you think attention metrics will impact the market on a longer time horizon?

Attention metrics provide another opportunity for publishers to differentiate themselves and offer new value to advertisers through high-quality placements that drive meaningful outcomes.

For marketers, the ability to buy media on attention-based quality metrics, or even upon seconds exposed, is a gamechanger for maximizing media spend. Although high-quality placements might cost more, advertisers will be able to understand just how hard their media is working and justify the investment, while shifting spend away from low-value placements.

As audience targeting based on third-party cookies becomes less stable, and eventually becomes a thing of the past entirely, I think we will see a rise in attention measurement as a key metric to help brands optimize campaign performance with confidence. Buying media based on “seconds exposed,” virtually guarantees that no impression is ever wasted, which is what every brand ultimately strives for.

Discover Our Publications