As attention grows up, agency rebundling is one unintended result

If you didn’t pay attention in class and the teacher called on you, chances are you were in for a little embarrassment. But maybe you would’ve paid more attention if the teacher had been more interesting, or if your seat wasn’t by the window where you could stare outside. 

This overly simplistic analogy doesn’t really do justice to the growing world of measuring attention as a step toward determining better outcomes. Seen as the next step past impressions then viewability in the evolution of measurement, attention is undergoing all sorts of evaluations and creations of guidelines as its various purveyors aim to gain a better foothold.

Attention, when used properly, can offer insight into not only media planning and placement but creative execution as well. Notably, the emphasis on attention is uniting the creative and media sides of the agency world in yet another way.

History tells us that media agencies separated from creative agencies in a search for greater profitability and efficiencies via low-cost CPMs, and the early arrival of attention solutions addressed the silo of media. However, attention is becoming a driving force in overall campaign effectiveness with creative and media working together and prompting a re-bundling of sorts. 

Creative needs to play to the recognized strengths of the unique media environments in which they are placed. And media, no matter how good the placement is, needs strong creative if the ad is going to attract attention from consumers.

“There’s been a number of developments that are sort of unrelated, but in composite they signal a larger trend — that is the link between the creative and the media for greatest effectiveness,” said Max Kalehoff, CMO of growth and marketing at RealEyes. “There’s a higher opportunity of advertising planning that brings creative and media closer together” via use of attention. 

The work being done around attention provides “more evidence that understanding this dichotomy of the creative and the media and how they work together can create an intentional outcome,” added Kalehoff. RealEyes is working with research firms like Kantar as well as industry organizations like the IAB and ARF to help advance attention across the industry,

For its part, Kantar is incorporating RealEyes’ latest attention methodology into its Context Lab product, which aims to speed up the time to derive insights from metrics such as attention — but through creative and media prisms. The firm has worked on attention for the last decade, incorporating into its brand lift studies to help advertisers get to more effective outcomes, but the work with RealEyes now advances the sophistication of the results while compressing time frames from weeks to days, said Duncan Southgate, senior director of global creative at Kantar.

“Because it has a cost associated with it, the more you can get out of an ad with the most possible attention is becoming a way to optimize an execution because you’re always working against fundamental diminishing returns,” said Southgate.

Meanwhile, both the IAB and ARF have established formal initiatives to address creative and media performance via attention. The ARF now is launching the largest validation of solutions and methodologies, while the IAB is laying down guidelines as it aims to educate its constituents about the four forms of attention it sees, according to Angelina Eng, IAB’s vp of measurement, addressability and data center. 

“Marketers want to get closer to outcomes, and this is the next level of viewability, said Eng. “Some people may focus more on the creative itself, while others are going to use the data more to focus on the environment of where they need to place those ads. I think there needs to be a balance between the two.”

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