Ads that are relevant to the viewer and the moment will capture attention,but Lexer’s Kristy Malik says brands need data-driven insights to align with their audience’s interests, desires and needs at any point in time.

Global interest in advertising attention measurement has surged and the ‘attention economy’ is becoming the new battleground for Australian marketers. New attention metrics have sparked a rethink of blunt measurement tools like impressions and viewability, which give incomplete signals about how effective an ad is with consumers. 

Attention was the top topic on day one of Cannes Lions 2022 as advertisers, publishers and agencies are all starting to recognise that it is a limiting factor in the consumption of information. Brands need media magic and creative effectiveness to capture it.

According to Playground XYZ CEO Rob Hall, “the best thing of all is there’s no (digital) identifiers”.

“The power of attention-based metrics is pretty profound compared to viewability. Compared to viewability, (attention) is 7.5 times more potent at driving awareness and 5.9 times more potent at driving recall.”

Digital advertising has long been proven to have a role in contributing to outcomes across the marketing funnel but now, Australian marketers are rebuilding their measurement tool kits for brand building and privacy-first thinking. 

Metrics are under the microscope

Rather than tracking the “opportunity to see”, attention metrics shift the focus onto a verified human view. This is powerful because the human brain is wired to filter the barrage of messages consumers are exposed to on a daily basis and marketers have to be able to measure active attention if they want to learn how to capture it more effectively. 

Zenith CEO Nickie Scriven recently reminded the industry that “attention is much more than the active consumption of a media channel”.

“We pay attention to the things that interest us. Regardless of the media channel we tune into, we are fundamentally there to consume the content of that medium, be it a show on a streaming platform or free-to-air TV, listening to music on the radio or Spotify, tuning into a podcast or a social connection with friends and influencers. As has always been the case, advertisers endeavour to leverage this attention by positioning products and services positively in the minds of consumers.”

Bonnie Dodemaide, the National Digital Performance Lead from iProspect, recently explained in an IAB Member Q&A series that there is repeated proof that attention and mental availability are related.

“If we are saying that emotion is the most powerful force, we need to focus on planning our media and setting KPIs that can take active attention and attention seconds into consideration.”

Brand budgets are under pressure

Brands need to cut through the noise but they can’t do this by shouting louder and fears of a recession are putting even greater emphasis on campaign ROI.

This means that advertisers need to get smarter about improving attention via media planning and creative development, and they can only do this by successfully leveraging their customer data to get a better understanding of what will resonate with the market.

Relevance unlocks attention

A Video Mobile Diary study by Google found that relevant video ads  generate three times the attention compared to an average video ad. A recent Accenture Interactive study also found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that remember them and provide relevant offers and recommendations.

But what does relevance mean to modern consumers? Amid rising advertising costs and heightened customer experience expectations, it is no longer enough for marketers to know their audience. They also need to know what their audience is looking for and in what context. 

Consumers are demanding personalised shopping experiences but they are also more privacy-aware. Regulations are also making data tracking harder and the biggest tech players are phasing out support for third-party cookies. Marketers need to continue to make advertisements that are relevant to their audience while upholding their trust. 

Overcome the communication breakdown

One of the biggest obstacles to capturing attention and delivering effective personalisation is data management. It’s difficult to use data in meaningful, relevant and customer-centric ways without strong alignment between the marketing and IT teams. 

Data also has to be normalised in order to reduce redundancy and maintain the integrity needed to inform attention-grabbing personalisation strategies. Data silos and reporting conducted in different systems also tell disconnected stories about customers, making it difficult to discern clear customer journeys and create relevant ads.

Put good data in, get great outcomes out

Given the simultaneous demand for privacy and personalisation, brands are opting for better ways to manage data. They need to unify, clean and standardise disparate data from disconnected areas of the business, such as the data warehouse, CRM, e-commerce platform, marketing automation platforms, stores and website.

Once they have a connected view of the customer, strategists and creators can work together to capture attention. Empowered with an understanding of the customer and what makes them tick, they’re able to choose the most relevant contexts in which to place their ads and align their brand proposition to their audience’s needs.

Target behaviours, not just demographics

Marketers spend a lot of energy understanding their target audience persona. They create customer personas and then try to tailor their messaging and ad placement to captivate and influence their audience.

However, if the customer doesn’t have a want or a need that’s relevant to an advertisement at the moment they are exposed to it, it’s less likely to capture their attention. Google’s Brand Lift Targeting Analysis recently found that campaigns that use intent-based targeting on mobile have a 20% higher ad recall lift and 50% higher brand awareness lift compared to campaigns that only use demographic targeting.

Understand the buyer and their intent

That’s where intent signals need to come into advertising strategies. Brands need to pull in huge amounts of customer data daily, then integrate it with product data, third-party enrichment data, predictive analytics tools and a variety of other systems, and store and organise it into a single customer view if they want to gain a better understanding of both the customer and their intent. 

While basic human needs don’t vary much from person to person, their immediate needs, wants and desires can change at any moment throughout the day as the environment evolves around them. 

For example, after the pandemic, consumers are experiencing an increased awareness of potential risks to their health and financial well-being – 31% of consumers have suffered financially and have changed their shopping behaviours to reduce outgoing costs and limit their exposure to the virus. Being able to measure and speak to these shifting priorities can help brands stay relevant and capture attention.

By analysing customer behaviour from multiple channels through a single view, it’s easier to know when to offer a discount, where to place an ad and with what message, and what type of products will be most relevant based on past interests and purchases. This can all be achieved with unique customer identifiers, rather than relying heavily on third-party cookies.

When this one-to-one level of personalisation and dynamic relevance is achieved in a privacy-compliant way, the process of acquiring like-minded customers and building customer lifetime value becomes more effective.

Capturing attention starts with data management

Before brands can unlock the power of media magic and creative effectiveness to capture attention, they have to get a handle on data management.

Only then do they have the customer insights needed to influence people in impactful and relevant moments.