How planning for attention can supercharge your media plan

23 Oct 2018  |  Dominic Tillson 
How planning for attention can supercharge your media plan

What can advertisers do to maximise the impact of their campaigns, without disrupting the user’s experience, or requiring additional budget? By Inskin Media's Dominic Tillson

Consumer attention is a scarce commodity in today’s always-on world. The web is crammed full of distractions and mobile platforms are now dividing attention even further. As such, it’s becoming ever more difficult to encourage consumers to acknowledge advertising – let alone interact with it meaningfully.

Research from Lumen found that just 12% of standard display ads are ever looked at, meaning that only a fraction of a brand’s entire display budget is put to good use on a regular basis.

Coupling this with the fact that 40% of British consumers dislike all forms of advertising online - a sentiment further solidified by the implementation of GDPR this year - it’s clear that for advertisers to extract substantial value from their digital ad campaigns they need to make smarter decisions when planning.

So what can advertisers do to maximise the impact of their campaigns, without disrupting the user’s experience, or requiring additional budget? The answer lies in a new way of thinking when it comes to measuring performance, and a different approach to setting KPIs.

Right now, many brands are reluctant to invest in quality digital advertising, valuing higher reach over higher quality. Pressure to meet tougher targets with tighter budgets means focus in recent years has been on garnering the greatest number of views without questioning the quality of each engagement. While this more-is-more mindset might seem the most efficient, in truth, it has little long-term value if consumers are not engaging with the ads.

Instead, a much more effective and efficient metric for brands to plan their campaigns around is ‘attention’ or ‘visual engagement’. A range of independent studies have found that this metric is a valid predictor for both brand metrics and conversions: both of these business KPIs see increases as visual engagement time (the time people spend looking at an ad) goes up.

For example, our own research conducted in partnership with Lumen found that 50% of users were able to recall the advertised brand after 1-2 seconds of visual engagement time, versus 35% after 0-1 seconds.

When it comes to maximising value, getting people to look at your ad for more than a second is pivotal. Brand and conversion magic begins beyond this one second of visual engagement.

Further findings from our research indicate that there are ways to drive this meaningful attention to standard formats such as MPUs, without resorting to scattergun tactics. We found that high-impact ad formats generate 15x more attention than standard display ads. The research investigated the influence of this on subsequent exposures. The results are noteworthy.

When preceded by a high-impact ad, we discovered that the time consumers spent looking at MPUs increased by 39%. Similarly, the percentage of those standard display ads looked at for one second or longer, increased by a substantial 140%. Viewers were also 27% more likely to view an MPU shown after a high-impact format.

This means that by simply rethinking the planning process to include the strategic placement of high-impact formats, the effects of cheaper, standard display formats are improved and able to garner far more attention than they would individually.

High-impact formats have long been known to perform very well on critical measures like attention, but these insights could enable marketers to implement them on a more strategic basis – using them to make standard ads work harder as part of the overall media plan.

So what does this prove? It proves that chasing cheap inventory for the highest reach is not the most efficient use of ad spend. Instead, if we are smarter in the planning stages, we can make our ads work harder. Planning for visual attention can not only make campaigns more efficient, but also positively impact key business KPIs.


Dominic Tillson is Head of Insight, Inskin Media

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