Realeyes’ Max Kalehoff and Tvision’s Tristan Webster address the correlation between pre-flight creative attention data and in-market attention data in video ads.

It’s simple psychology. Ads work best when people pay attention. A video ad will work best when it is introduced into an attentive environment, and when the creative quality is sufficient to capture attention. Only then will an ad have an opportunity to encode the brain by eliciting an emotional response.

Advertisers should always strive to invest toward higher attention with higher quality media and creative, but not all advertising environments are most attentive, nor are all creatives highest quality. Especially in linear TV, making differing qualities of creative and media work best together is a challenge.

But research on some key questions is nascent. What is the right way to select and match creative and media in linear TV? Is there a difference between pre-campaign creative scores and in-market attention performance? Importantly, can pre-campaign scores guide better media placement, along with frequency?

To answer these questions, TVision and Realeyes evaluated the relationship between pre-flight creative quality and in-flight creative performance, which has resulted in the report The CMO Guide: Improving Media Efficiency Through Creative Attention. To our knowledge, this is the first time pre-flight creative attention data and in-market attention data have ever fused. Our goal was to better understand how creative intelligence can combine with in-market TV attention measurement to drive better business outcomes.

We evaluated nearly 40 linear TV ads in the USA, 15- and 30-seconds duration, from major brands in industries ranging from consumer-packaged goods, to consumer technology, streaming and entertainment. Brands included Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Arby’s, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Disney+, Domino’s Pizza, Facebook Groups, Fiji Water, Google, Haribo Gold-Bears, HBO Max, Hershey’s, Hulu, Kit Kat, M&M’s, Microsoft Teams, Mountain Dew, NBC, Netflix, Pepsi, Popeyes, Red-Bull, Samsung, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. We used Realeyes’ PreView creative attention tool to score each creatives’ quality, then we used TVision data to evaluate the in-market attention performance of each ad.

PreView pre-market Quality Scores of ads are created by using front-facing cameras on any webcam to detect natural attention and emotional reaction as opt-in viewers watch video. Similarly, TVision provides second-by-second person-level data about how people watch TV in-market. That includes who’s watching, what they’re watching, and how much attention they’re paying to both linear and Connected TV.

What did we learn?

Pre-flight creative quality influences in-market attention performance

There was a significant relationship (0.3 to 0.5 correlation) between the two metrics across all industries. This correlation is compelling when you consider the multitude of in-market variables that can reward and punish a video creative’s performance. Think about frequency, environmental viewing quality, daypart and more.

Not all creatives benefit equally from premium media placements

While high-scoring creative performs well across most dayparts (even less expensive daytime hours), low-scoring creative is more sensitive to performance differences across the viewing day. If pre-campaign testing reveals low-scoring creative, but marketers don’t have the luxury of editing or reinventing new creatives, they should consider weighting their media toward primetime dayparts to ensure their ad has the best opportunity to break through. Placing your best creative in the most attentive media environments might yield the least lift.

Low-performing creatives benefit more from repeat exposures to “Wear In”

While it is usually best to put your best foot forward with only the best creative, sometimes limited creative versions require that you leverage lower-scoring creative to rotate messaging and prevent creative fatigue. Low-scoring creatives in pre-market tests can improve their in-market attention by as much as 5% as they are shown with increased frequency (5+ exposures). If you’ve already invested in a lower-scoring ad, monitor in-market attention to give it time to resonate with viewers.

High-scoring creative can peak more quickly in market

The attention boost marketers get from creative that scores well in pre-flight testing sometimes can fade as frequency is increased. Think of an awe-inspiring, cinematic video production with catchy tunes, or even a clever comedic plot. After the fifth viewing, such attention-inducing videos can become less interesting. While lower-scoring ads tended to lift in in-market attention after five impressions, higher scoring ads began to level off or decline after five impressions. This suggests that marketers shouldn’t plan to rest forever on the laurels of one great creative. They should monitor the performance of older ads, be selective of frequency, and ensure rotate fresher creative into the mix.

Ad performance varies over time and across media placements  

The context of the program, daypart, and frequency all directly impact how much attention viewers pay to ads. Metrics like the Realeyes Quality Score and TVision’s In-Market Creative Attention Score are guide posts and can ultimately help marketers make better planning and optimization decisions on their campaigns. To do so, marketers must test creative pre-flight, understand the attention potential of their campaign’s media, and closely monitor in-market creative performance to ensure they’re executing the best possible placement strategies.