Over the course of my career, I have repeated the same mantra many times: “You can’t handle what you can’t measure.“ I thought KPIs should have real metrics, that activity is the way to create a sales funnel, that employee happiness should be regularly measured, and – more importantly – that an advertiser should have an easy way to Return on ad spend (ROAS) for every dollar. . It wasn’t until recently that I realized, on this last one, that I might have been drinking a little too much Kool-Aid.
This Kool-Aid was a performance ad; the click and the conversion. Until about six years ago, the companies that sold it said that intention and clicks were all that mattered. But even for clickvangelists, the narrative has changed. They now have branding platforms that promote engagement, view time, and audience reach with audio turned on – many of the smoothest metrics beyond and around the click they used to sell against.
The attention economy
Studies of brand reach, brand recall, and mixed media modeling (MMM) can determine what their new offerings are trying to sell right now, what all advertising has always worked with: our attention.
I first heard about the attention economy from Clive Record, head of global media partnerships at Dentsu, where he had been working on this shift in storytelling around media for some time. He told me (and I agree): “Correct measurement of attention is essential to understanding the value of platforms in relation to their impact.“ This claim seems obvious in a multi-screen, multi-tasking world. That a billboard in the ballpark of the game that I’m half-minded about on my tablet will have less impact than the audio advertising that’s playing. Both will be different from the award winning video ad that is offered to me on the freemium presentation software that I use at the same time.
Tensions with attention on mobile
As ‘digital’ increasingly means ‘mobile’, what keeps and promotes attention on the (smaller) small screen? I don’t think these are interstitial ads where the “x” to close is so small that it could be fingered by a stylus. While this can lead to a great click-through rate report, the bounce rates are enough to make you shiver.
I also have doubts about non-skippable “rewarded” videos which certainly offer the reward of a moment to have a drink or use the bathroom in addition to boosting my life or my items in the game. engagement but (at least if you’re targeting me) garbage in terms of attention.
For me, the way to optimize performance is to let people do what they came to do in the medium in the first place. That’s why YouTube has shortened and shortened its ads (and created YouTube short films), because if you can’t get your point across with a six-second bumper ad, you’ve already lost what you’re there for: the user’s attention.
Attention in game
In-game advertising – advertisements that are displayed non-intrusively in gameplay experiences – is different in that it does not prevent the user from knowing why they came to the game in the first place. It’s, of course, playful, whether it’s a two-minute online snacking session at the drugstore or a two-hour session on the couch. In the vast majority of genres and styles of play, the player’s attention is where it belongs. I can’t command an army, kill a dragon, or drive a Formula 1 car without active attention.
Aha, I hear you screaming. I got you! How can an In-Play ad grab attention when you just said players need to pay attention to the game itself? Wouldn’t it be better to reach them during natural pauses in gameplay? And you may be right, to a point. But when I’m playing a racing game, making a pit stop every two laps to stare at a billboard for 30 seconds means the only thing that’s drifting is my attention. If you want your brand to be on the minds of your consumers, with a positive association, it must be essential that you engage with their focused attention without disrupting what they are really there to do. That doesn’t mean giving up ROAS – far from it – but it does mean taking a less familiar path and relying on more metrics than before, such as brand improvement.
Rebalancing attention metrics
It’s not perfect science and I can’t promise a quick fix. But with performance advertising at a critical juncture following changes implemented by major ecosystems such as Apple and Facebook, click-for-all reverence is increasingly antithetical to the multi-screen, privacy-driven landscape. . That’s not to say that I would call click a stale metric, but our adoration about it has encouraged its growth to such a degree that it undermines the softer, complementary attention metrics.
Are we going to stick with the click until it’s proven beyond a doubt that it no longer promotes attention (and even decreases it)? Or is it time to wean off Kool-Aid and train our taste buds to something more subtle?
By Michael Silberberg, Vice President of Global Partnerships, Admix