From Viewability to Impact: Adelaide's Marc Guldimann on Meaningful Attention Amid Ad Clutter and Privacy Concerns

Ahead of his appearance at ExchangeWireLIVE Attention Event next month, Adelaide's founder & CEO, Marc Guldimann, talks about all things concerning the evolving landscape of digital advertising metrics, privacy concerns, and the quest for meaningful consumer attention. Amid a backdrop of easily manipulated traditional metrics that have led to ad-cluttered webpages and diminishing user experiences, Guldimann highlights the industry's pivot toward nuanced, outcome-based metrics.

How has the attention challenge evolved over the past couple of years? What has made capturing people’s attention more difficult?

Marc Guldimann, CEO & co-founder, Adelaide

For more than a decade, the digital advertising landscape has been dominated by binary metrics, such as viewability and VCR. These metrics don’t accurately capture the nuances of media quality within and across channels, and create incentives to increase investment in cheap reach at the expense of advertising outcomes. 

Predictably, these metrics have been very easy to game, with publishers delivering increasingly lower-quality media as long as it meets viewability standards. This has led to webpages overloaded with ads and poor user experiences—it’s no wonder people are increasingly resorting to ad blockers and ad avoidance, making the task of capturing attention all the more daunting.

Are some ad formats better able to capture consumers’ attention? In what ways do other formats struggle?

Absolutely. Adelaide’s research indicates that particular channels and formats have a higher propensity to capture the kind of attention that leads to positive outcomes. 

For instance, within digital environments, sites with low ad clutter and high ad coverage tend to perform better, and the quality of an ad format hinges on factors like coverage, audibility, and in-view duration. And while the media quality signals vary, say between a prime-time TV spot and an OLV placement, Adelaide’s attention scores are normalized across channels, enabling meaningful cross-channel quality comparisons. Case in point: CTV media generally trumps digital display in terms of its ability to drive attention and impact.

What measurement techniques/metrics are currently in use to evaluate how much attention ad campaigns are garnering, and how effective are they?

There are several techniques for measuring attention:

  • Viewability + (quality CPM): While a step above the low end of the viewability threshold, on-screen duration is one of numerous factors that impact a placement’s ability to capture attention.
  • Duration-based Attention Metrics (DBAMs): DBAMs measure or predict attention in seconds. Born out of the discovery that more attention tends to yield better results, advertisers began using DBAMs as campaign KPIs. Unfortunately, when used for optimization DBAMs create creative and audience biases that are not always favorable or intended. 
  • Probability of Attention: Attention metrics focused on a media placement’s probability of attention, and ideally subsequent outcomes, attempt to remove noise from audience and creative, two factors known to impact attention. In doing so, these metrics offer a more precise understanding of media quality than alternative metrics and can be leveraged by both media buyers and sellers.

What developments are taking place to improve how attention is measured, and how will these comply with tightening privacy legislation

Stakeholders across the advertising ecosystem, from vendors to advertisers and media sellers, are starting to hone in on the importance of connecting attention to outcomes, realizing attention is just another vanity metric if it doesn’t yield tangible impact. An encouraging trend we’re seeing is the integration of outcome data into attention calculations—the foundation of Adelaide’s model.

The key is tying ad environmental and contextual data—the media quality signals I described earlier—directly to outcome data, eliminating the need for user-based identifiers. This not only safeguards consumer privacy but also emphasizes the importance of media metrics focused solely on media quality by holding audience and creative influences constant. 

What are you looking forward to at the ExchangeWireLIVE Attention event?

I’m looking forward to a deep dive into the practical applications of attention data. While research about the duration of attention’s link to outcomes, along with eye-tracking and biometric studies, has been pivotal to constructing attention metrics, I’m most interested in how marketers are converting these insights into actionable strategies and using them to secure higher-quality media. I’m eager to explore these themes and more alongside leading marketers during the panel session. 

Don't miss out on hearing Adelaide and other experts speak on these critical issues at the ExchangeWireLIVE Attention Event on November 14. Remaining tickets found here.