Media Buying Briefing: Attention metrics show potential at top and bottom of marketing funnel

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This Media Buying Briefing covers the latest in agency news and media buying for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Monday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

The media business — digital, linear, social, publisher, etc. — is in a limbo state of sorts when it comes to measurement and currency. Nielsen has just been acquired, and a host of other companies and measurement systems hope to make themselves invaluable to the buying and selling of media — starting with this year’s upfront. From engagement to viewability to loyalty to even business outcomes, this snarl of metrics options has created a tangle of confusion for brands and media agencies.

One subset of the measurement space is focused on attention metrics, where a few players are pushing for greater consideration in media planning and activation departments, including RealEyes, TVision and Adelaide. Attention metrics essentially tries to evaluate how much actual attention is paid to ad messages, going beyond viewability as a sufficient gauge of interest or value. Using passive eye-tracking technology, it aims to get to a holistic view expressed in a single metric, whether that’s behavioral- or outcome-based. 

While the technology isn’t accredited by the Media Rating Council yet, several media agencies have experimented with it. Adelaide, a private company helmed by CEO Marc Guldimann, held a private event on March 31 with TVision, that Digiday attended, during which several media agencies using Adelaide’s AU metric tool talked about what they’re doing with it and how it’s impacted them.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to the media agency execs who kicked the tires on AU — including Sébastien Hernoux, chief data and technology officer for OMD, Caitlin Russell, director of marketing analytics and data consulting at Havas Media, and Ed McElvain, executive vp and director of P3 (digital platforms and data-driven media buying) at Mediahub — is its value as a measure of both brand and performance effectiveness.

“There was a strong correlation between attention and performance metrics,” said Hernoux. “We’re optimizing against attention — and now we’re working on how to fold it into our activation plans.” Hernoux noted that it’s harder to fold attention into the planning process as it is into activation because “it’s a bit harder to prove results that way.”

McElvain, who works a lot in programmatic buying, said it’s helping his agency zone in on more effective investments for clients: “Today we’re buying better inventory because of attention,” he said. 

But effective can also mean expensive, which is a challenge when working with brands’ procurement folks, since the use of attention metrics tends to point investment toward more expensive inventory — the bane of procurement folks everywhere. As Havas Media’s Russell noted, it’s a matter of making proper use of attention metrics to prove to procurement people money wasn’t wasted. “This can help prove that expensive campaigns showed value,” she said.

Will attention become a currency? Irwin Gotlieb, former CEO of WPP’s GroupM and an investor in Adelaide, who spoke at the event, said he ultimately believes it should be, but doesn’t think that should be a concern today. “I wouldn’t debate whether this should be currency or not,” he said. “We always had secondary and tertiary currencies. Eventually when knowledge asymmetry goes away, it can become primary.” 

“While we continue to focus on the buy-side, an evolution of the market is inevitable as more advertisers optimize using AU,” said Guldimann after the event. “So we are planning for a time when more of the market is using AU, creating scarcity of quality impressions. At that point advertisers may be better off asking for guarantees denominated in AU rather than optimizing.”

A brief look at this week’s Media Buying Summit

If you’re not signed up yet to attend Digiday’s Media Buying Summit, this week from April 5-7 at the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., here’s a quick look at the conversations and topics you’ll be missing: 

  • Multi-scenario planning
  • Several angles on independent agencies
  • Leading, not following, with advances in digital
  • Cross-screen measurement
  • Digital audio and podcasting
  • Key trends in commerce
  • AI and machine learning in the agency world
  • Finding new audiences for clients without losing existing ones.

I hope you’ll be there as Digiday’s managing editor Sara Jerde and I host the conversations. 

Color by numbers

Instagram may still be a hot property for marketers to promote their wares, but it may be cooling off. According to recent HubSpot Blog Research, many Instagram marketers reported losing followers between 2020 to 2021. Two out of five cited not posting enough as the main reason brands lose followers. HubSpot surveyed more than 1,000 marketers on how to combat the dropping numbers: 

  • 78% of marketers use Instagram Stories, of which 43% post on behalf of their brand multiple times a week;
  • 18% of respondents said Instagram Stories content that reflected their brand’s values produced the greatest ROI; 
  • From the consumer side, 35% of consumers prefer short narratives with a mix of photos, text and videos.

Takeoff & landing

  • Stagwell bought Canadian multicultural full-service agency Dyversity Communications, which specializes in Chinese and South Asian communications. The agency will be folded into Stagwell’s Donor Partner Network, and Dyversity’s founder Albert Yup will continue to run the shop as CEO. Terms were not disclosed.
  • Dentsu’s iProspect hired Performics’ chief client officer Josh Dwiggins to be its global chief client strategy officer, reporting into Amanda Morrissey, iProspect’s global client & brand president. 
  • Media investment analysis firm Ebiquity bought two companies, Media Management Inc. (whose founder and CEO Thomas Bridge becomes Ebiquity’s president of North America), and MediaPath Network (whose founding partner, executive chairman and chief product & innovation officer Susanne Elias becomes Ebiquity’s chief business integration officer). 
  • National CineMedia launched a new data intelligence platform, NCMx, which aims to give brands and advertisers deeper data insights into moviegoers and connect with them through retargeting on mobile and digital devices before and after visiting theaters. 

Direct quote

“As the media industry and the marketing industry concurrently advance with better technology and more innovative formats channels and solutions, the marriage of those things is super exciting. It allows us to be at the service of the patients and the physicians that we support, and make sure that we’re using all of the innovation that’s happening in marketing for the best possible ways to help close that gap in what has historically been a really challenging space to navigate. Even in the 15 years that I’ve been in health media, it’s been really encouraging to sort of see the difference of what it was. It was a drop in the bucket compared to what we can do today.”

— Andrea Palmer, president of Publicis Health Media, speaking about advances in healthcare marketing.

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