Will new ways of

measuring attention impact media spend?

Redefining Digital Marketing Metrics

With a crowded digital landscape, increased ad blockers, and insufficient measuring metrics, it is no surprise that the industry is looking for new and better ways to optimize its media spend. The question: How can I, as a marketer, spend my limited media budget as wisely as possible? is more pertinent than ever. Buying attention might be an answer but how do we measure success?

By: Gabrielle Haapala and Thomas Jung on March 28, 2024 | Reading time: 7 minutes

In the contemporary world of digital marketing, several fundamental principles must be adhered to when launching a campaign. These range from selecting specific segments to sidestep fraudulent traffic to identifying the optimal frequency settings to prevent ad collision and establishing viewability objectives for our campaigns. But foremost, an advertisement that goes unseen is an effective waste of your media spend.

Impressions and viewability have long been the industry standard. However, these metrics are merely technical measurements the industry uses as proxies for someone seeing your ad. In fact, they say nothing about whether an actual person has seen your ad or how they felt about it, nor if that person can identify and remember you as the sender.
Therefore, with its ever-growing plethora of advertisers, brands, and products, the digital landscape brings heightened demand for consumers’ attention and, with it, heightened cost for impressions.

Users are exposed to more ad messages as the digital landscape shifts toward more ad inventory. The daily average is estimated to be between 6,000 and 10,000 ads per user. The cluttered environment has trained us to filter away most of these messages over time.

Besides reaching through this cluttered environment, we also have challenges with fraudulent traffic. MFA websites (made for advertising websites) are slipping through the cracks of ad fraud prevention segments.
Ad blockers, which started out to secure the user from fraudulent ads, have increased by 100% in the past 15 years and are mainly used to enhance the experience online. At the other end of the burning candle, the deprecation of third-party cookies significantly limits the addressable reach, a trend that has been ongoing for some time.

Soft launch of various metrics

With these phenomena ever-present, it is no surprise that the industry is looking for new and better ways to optimize its media spend. The question: How can I, as a marketer, spend my limited media budget as wisely as possible? is more pertinent than ever. Buying attention might be the answer.

The industry has been working on new and clever ways to measure success in parallel with the evolving landscape. With the help of eye-tracking technology and user panels, marketers are now observing the soft launch of various new metrics used as better alternatives for current exposure measuring methods. As always, there is not one answer to this; it’s more of a patchwork of models and techniques that must be carefully stitched together. There are several steps between the technical ads and people’s awareness of a brand, and the dots still need to be connected.

So, how do attention metrics differ from impression metrics? The subject of viewable impressions has been scrutinized and debated in detail, and the industry standard has been the same for decades and goes as follows:

An impression is counted as viewable if at least 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible to the end user for at least one continuous second for static creative or two continuous seconds for video, per Media Rating Council (MRC) standards.
But even if we can ensure that a person has actually seen our ad and not just had the technical opportunity to do so, steps such as fixation, fixation time, and consideration must occur before we can achieve our goal of increased brand awareness, which is crucial for attracting and retaining customers.

Common challenges

The correlation between these steps is well-researched, but most marketers struggle to understand what they mean for their business. When stitching the steps together, another challenge is that we are forced to use different data types. Impressions and viewability are, as mentioned before, technical indicators that can easily be found in our media buying platforms. Fixation and fixation time are probabilistic data based on panel results that must be applied on top with some accuracy.

To measure fixation and fixation time, we will need to use eye-tracking studies. If done correctly, it should be done for the individual brand and its specific assets. There are meta-studies that can be used as proxies, giving us a hint of what might work when it comes to assets, formats, and placements. Last but not least, we have the tracking of consideration and brand awareness, which has traditionally been based on panel data. The panel, then, is the proxy for a much larger population, which can be a challenge in itself.

Unfortunately, no industry standard exists to help us navigate this complexity. This can make the hardest fainted of us look the other way and keep doing as we always have done, which is Einstein’s definition of stupidity. As always, the elephant can only be eaten a bite at a time.

Identifying hidden or untapped potential

Distinctiveness, brand, and viewability are pieces of the puzzle. Luckily, we have all the pieces, but the work to be done is to assemble them customized so that you, as an advertiser, can take the actions crucial for your business.

The start should be to collect data, try to find causations between the steps for the individual company, and, over time, build the model. At Curamando, we are experts at identifying the pieces and creating models to help you determine your position within the attention-buying landscape. We guide you through the different challenges, from measuring success through setting clear KPIs and attribution projects to packaging them in a way that enables you to use your resources most efficiently. Aligning with our creative sister agency, we have combined experience building and executing brands in bought media to drive scalable transformation for your business.

Whether your organization spends developer hours or the extra price tag on metrics provided by your ad-buying partner, it is time to join the bandwagon.

Do you want to assess your current setup and identify hidden or untapped potential regarding attention in your display activities? Contact Gabrielle Haapala or Thomas Jung. We’d love to talk!

About the authors

Gabrielle Haapala is a Performance marketing consultant with 5 years of experience working with a broad selection of clients in verticals such as automotive, retail, e-com, and medical care.

Thomas Jung is a Paid Media consultant with 20 years of experience in the media industry. Prior to Curamando, he held various leading positions at some of the largest media agencies in Sweden. He has vast experience with a wide range of clients, such as FMCG, automotive, and telco.

Get in touch!

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