The key metric you should be considering... Or is it?

Not when you consider that Thomas Davenport and John Beck wrote a book back in 2001 and called it ‘The Attention Economy’. What prompted them was a feeling, and this is back then, that in today’s information-flooded world the scarcest resource is not ideas or even talent: it’s attention”

So, what happened? Life moved on, the established marketing metrics stayed in place, and information became a daily digital deluge. As the commercial internet grew, so did the confusion around how to properly measure it as an advertising medium.

Which brings us to the start of 2023, where forward-thinking advertisers and marketers are at last starting to look at attention as (potentially) a potent new metric for judging the success of their communications – whether it’s in judging the quality of the media they buy or the creative that they produce.

As Sander Bosch, Global Head of Brand & Communication Insights at Heineken, describes …it’s about the ability to attract consumer attention to brands through various touchpoints with our distinctive brand assets, and both creative and media play a role here… in delivering some kind of impression or leaving some kind of meaningful mark”.

In other words, all impressions are not equal, and we can probably say that the oft-quoted ‘viewability’ is not a competent measure of attention.

Which brings us to the thing about Attention that is new – how we can now objectively measure advertising’s ability to capture and hold the attention of its target audience.

Critically important, because the higher the measure of attention then clearly the more successful the advertising will be in achieving its objectives such as brand awareness or sales.

Historically, attention has only been measured through self-reporting (asking people directly about their attention to an advertisement, either through a survey or focus group), or by making large inferences around advertising’s effect on sales and other KPIs.

With objective measurement, we use new research technology to track people's attention to an advertisement through eye-tracking software. This data, based on highly robust panel methodology, and provided by Lumen, is now available on the Converge-Select platform for Irish advertisers.

As an industry, we are still in the early stages of attention measurement and how best to deploy it, but we can already see ways of helping advertisers in optimising their campaigns and improving their return on investment by using the data.

Now that’s something worth paying attention to!