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Is Attention Really Considered As The Holy Grail of Digital Advertising? – MMA Impact MENA 2021 Recap

Posted Nov 16, 2021

On November 9th, AdColony participated in IMPACT MENA 2021 – specifically, our very own General Manager of EMEA & LATAM Warrick Billingham moderated the webinar and led the discussion about attention metrics and the importance of measuring consumer attention. Together with Shaimaa Ismail (CMO at L’Oréal Egypt), Donnacha Kinsella (Data and Strategy Lead for P&G, Starcom MENA), and Mike Follett (Managing Director, Lumen Research), the panel explored digital advertising from the definition of a quality view/impression perspective which is delivered to an actual end-user, viewable based on MRC standards, and measurable & brand-safe. The group of experts was tasked with answering the following question: Measurement partners are employed to track all these KPIs in the digital advertising environment, but is this enough?

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Below are some highlights of AdColony’s “Attention Economy” panel discussion:

The attention economy is a buzzword coming out of the U.K. market — Mike Follett from Lumen Research noted that advertising has always been about attention. It’s just now we can measure it with the advantages of eye-tracking and digital communications. People have always been able to ignore advertising like direct mail and newspaper advertisements. But with digital advertising, there is this assumption that the inventory is infinite and you can have many ads as you like. But just because lots of ads are served, that doesn’t mean that users have looked at them. It is important to distinguish between things that are viewable and things being actually viewed. Actual attention can drive sales and lift brand metrics which is important to consider since 70% of all advertisements are digital.

Measuring attention is not easy, but desirable. Warrick Billingham from AdColony noted that since the guidelines for ad verification were introduced by the digital advertising industry trade groups, marketers have been measuring media performance based on valid, viewable, and brand-safe impressions. But is this enough, or do we need to consider expanding on these metrics to get better insights around ROI & bottom-line contribution? Donnacha Kinsella from Starcom MENA responded: “First of all, verifications are primary, that is step one. But still many marketers in many regions don’t use verification tools. In my opinion, it is a massive oversight. With ad verification, you can understand metrics to measure ads as valid, viewable, brand-safe, quality… But you need to expand on these metrics to truly understand the effectiveness of your advertisement. In terms of effectiveness, I see a lot of advertisers using media brand lift studies or match panel analysis to engage or measure their campaigns. But I believe it would serve them much better to have an always-on measurement framework because this would give them more actionable learnings. Always on measurement with a focus on attention will allow understanding what is truly successful and gaps that you need to improve on. This will allow you to see which digital advertising you should move with to get a better business impact.”

There are challenges that are found in performance beyond verification. Shaimaa Ismail from L’Oréal noted that if we stick only to ad verification and what it gives in terms of the ad viewability, that would be the one example of “silo measurement.” We need to look beyond that to see what impact did this ad have on the consumer. She also added: “About brand lift studies, I think there are two challenges that I would highlight here as marketers. When the campaign is running with different digital touchpoints, you cannot really confirm if the results of the brand studies you are getting are specifically designated platforms for your video campaigns because the campaign is running on multi-platforms & cross channels. Another challenge is scalability. How quick and big is my access to consumers to really understand the impact on the consumers and to be able to get the assessment of the campaign impact.”

What are the other metrics to look out for in order to detect creative deficiency and maximize user attention? Both Donnacha Kinsella from Starcom MENA and Mike Follet from Lumen Research mentioned that every media type has its role to play and advertisers understand this. In today’s digital advertising world, we are all more and more moving away from the last-click attribution model, especially for sophisticated digital marketers. Marketers ultimately want to know what their return on ad spend is going to be with advanced data solutions and customer data platforms being developed. We are actually getting closer to understanding the customer value and or maybe even the customer lifetime value. All advertisers and marketers are thought to be heading in this direction. On the other hand, since the attention metric was not known and could not be measured until this time, no one actually knew what kind of actions to take. But now, thanks to companies like Lumen, which can measure attention, brands both know what to do and are aware of consumers’ behaviors and reactions. From this point on, it will be important for brands to take action, not just talk about consumer attention anymore.

You can access and explore both our panel and all of MMA Impact’s sessions here.

About MMA

MMA is the world’s leading global non-profit trade association consisting of 800 member companies from nearly fifty countries across the globe. From brand marketers and agencies to enabling technologies and media companies, MMA members come from every corner of the mobile media ecosystem. Its mission is to accelerate the transformation and innovation of marketing through mobile, driving business growth with closer and stronger consumer engagement.

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