Attention matters in advertising, and part of the answer lies in screen real estate

If attention is a currency, some advertisers are paying for nothing, especially if people can’t see their ads, as Kim Portrate explains.

It’s not news that capturing people’s attention is difficult. On an average day, we are exposed to thousands of advertisements. The big question is, how many do we pay direct attention to? The answer is, sadly, very few and in advertising, attention matters.

For ads to be effective, two things need to happen: people need to see them and they need to pay attention to them.

Others may tell you that the size of the ad on the screen isn’t a factor in grabbing and holding people’s attention. Common sense should tell you otherwise. And if it doesn’t, The Benchmark Series – an independent, in-home study into how Australians really engage with video advertising across different platforms and devices​ – shows just how critical this is.

According to Benchmark, ads which are fully rendered – taking up 100% of a screen’s pixels – generate twice the sales impact of ads that only fill half the screen. When it comes to video advertising, it turns out size does matter.

Similarly, attention is a powerful driver of business results with Benchmark proving media channels that capture attention generate sales growth. To gauge which platforms people are genuinely paying attention to, Benchmark tested the attention-generation capability of the same advertising execution across linear TV, BVOD, Facebook and YouTube.

The same ad captured fluctuating levels of attention from one platform to another. While attention began high and stayed that way for the duration of the ad on some platforms, for others, it dropped off within seconds, which ultimately means money wasted.

Understandably, when chasing top of the funnel awareness, marketers consider all media channels as attention sources and spend time and money working out how to use them as effectively as possible. Every channel has its strengths (and weaknesses) that need to be understood to maximise the brand’s opportunity. It pays to discard vanity metrics with little to no influence over the effectiveness of an ad. For example, a media platform’s ability to capture time and attention is vastly different, and vastly less important, than time spent on said platform.

It’s terrific that, as an industry, we’re starting to focus more on metrics that consider a media platform’s ability to drive ad awareness and engagement. The reality is that from a TVC played full-screen in prime-time all the way through to a social video in a social media feed, viewable impressions have varying levels of opportunity to capture consumer attention​ and knowing this is vital to maximising the ROI of your campaigns.

While ad length, targeting, creative strength and other attributes contribute to improving attention creation, the platform itself is the ultimate decider.

All of this is important because when campaign reach and frequency goals are delivered with what looks like impressive efficiency and low CPMs, you simply must measure the level of attention paid and the ability of the ad to drive real business results such as sales. When you do, you may find the result is the exact opposite of the efficiency metrics.

Frankly, if you have the choice between buying media with low CPMs no one sees or engages with, or media consumers will notice and pay attention to, low cost, invisible media isn’t really an option, is it?

The economics of attention demonstrate that media which captures attention and generates business growth remains in high demand. So, when you’re planning your next campaign, don’t pay for nothing, pay for screen real estate and the attention it brings your ad.

Kim Portrate is the CEO of ThinkTV


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