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Attention Council seeks 'virtuous circle' for advertisers and publishers

12 Mar 2020  |  David Pidgeon 
Attention Council seeks 'virtuous circle' for advertisers and publishers

The ad industry is paying more attention to... attention.

On Wednesday, brands, agencies and publishers gathered for the formal launch of The Attention Council - "a loose confederation" of companies that have come together to promote the use of attention as a metric for understanding and trading media.

"Just because an ad is viewable doesn't mean that it is viewed - this is as true on TV and OOH as it is for mobile and desktop advertising," said Mike Follett, managing director of Lumen, an eye-tracking company and one of five founder companies on the council.

Follett said "understanding the reality" of attention will therefore help both advertisers and publishers, particularly in a digital era where the social proof of an ad's placement is becoming increasingly difficult to verify.

"Advertisers will be able to value and price different media appropriately, and avoid wasting money on ads that are never going to be looked at. Meanwhile, quality publishers get paid for creating environments in which advertising is more likely to be seen and acted on. There should be a nice virtuous circle."

The founding members of the council also include Amplified Intelligence, TVision, Adelaide and Avocet. They said they have joined forced to share insights, methodologies and standards.

Brands already on board include Diageo, Mars and Microsoft in the States, with Follett inviting UK brands to join the Council and shape its future direction.

As a further demonstration of the Council's credentials, a founding member also includes Amplified Intelligence's Karen Nelson-Field, author of The Attention Economy and How Media Works, which launched in London today.

Nelson-Field's work had been causing a stir recently, and her work was a key feature at last month's ISBA conference, attended by hundreds of leading UK advertisers.

Writing for Mediatel News, Dominic Mills said recently that the recent interest in attention - it was the subject of an award-winning study by Magnetic last year and Dentsu has issued a report on the attention economy - mirrors the way context, as opposed to audience, has gained traction.

With Google terminating third-party cookies, context becomes more important, he argues, and so quality publishers were taking a keen interest.

However, Mills said there are many issues to be debated.

"What is 'attention', for example? Brain and eye together, or is one sufficient? How long do you need attention for? What is the influence of device on attention? What other factors — creative, flighting and so on — have a bearing? Does attention mean different things in different media? And how do you turn it into a useful and actionable metric?"

Mills said it felt unlikely that a consensus will ever truly be reached, but said ultimately it may never matter.

"What really matters is that agencies and advertisers now factor in attention right at the beginning of any campaigns they run."

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07 Apr 2020 

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