Maximising Attention, Measuring Success: Q&A with Mark Slade, Digital Turbine

In association with Digital Turbine.

In this exclusive Q&A live from ATS Singapore 2023, Mark Slade, MD at Digital Turbine discusses how attention has evolved into the hottest metric in ad tech and how the industry is utilising it across mobile, gaming and more.

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

The simple answer is competition and clutter. Screens are less and less tuned into one specific thing. Instead, content and ads appear everywhere, and, whether publishers and advertisers like it or not, people can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Beyond that, people are also swayed by influences away from their screen – a child or family member, or one of a million things that could make them put the phone down for a moment. When it comes down to it, people will only pay attention if and when they want to: it’s up to the publishers and advertisers to find times and formats that can capture attention.

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

Mark Slade, MD, Digital Turbine

Publishers walk a fine line to balance the needs of consumers and advertisers. Both eyeballs and revenue are needed to have a successful platform, but the two of them are often at odds. Consumers want to have a minimally-impacted content experience while advertisers desire a captive audience to view their 30-second video story. In many cases, publishers opt for ad formats that favour the consumer, such as in-feed ads that they can scroll right past or ads they can skip with a tap. Meanwhile, non-skippable or bumper/pre-roll ads favour the advertiser. If the consumer doesn’t expect an ad when it’s delivered, they may get annoyed with the platform. This is why natural breaks, when the publisher cooperates with the desires of both the consumer and advertiser work best. Mobile gaming is one of the best examples of this because ads are expected at natural pauses in games – between levels or after certain moves. Rewarded video is even better, compensating the consumer for viewing the ad. It’s why these formats get much more attentive seconds than others.

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

Lumen and Amplified Intelligence have both used eyeball tracking to capture attentive seconds. This helps to identify the right formats and platforms that maximise time spent with video ads, which may be one key objective for brands. Additionally, both research companies have found that more attention yields better brand recall for advertisers.

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

The attention vendors mentioned above keeping honing their eyeball tracking technology and metrics. They’ve been looking for ways to use them to help predict attentive outcomes. What’s cool about this is the eye tracking data can be layered with other data signals, for example, how long the video was allowed to play and whether the audio was lowered or turned up. These metric measurements can then be turned programmatic allowing advertisers to buy based on the most attentive outcomes!

What are you looking forward to at the ExchangeWire LIVE Attention event?

The attention, in more ways than one! It’s great to see an event that spotlights what is such a big topic in mobile advertising. By putting the focus on Attention, ExchangeWire is really paving the way for a shift in how mobile advertising works. Storytelling and brand-building is becoming a bit of a lost science on mobile because of shorter attention spans and snackable content. I do believe there are ways to bring it back to the forefront, and ExchangeWire's event will make those things the centre of attention!

Don’t miss out on hearing from Digital Turbine and many more experts on the future of attention at the ExchangeWire LIVE Attention Event.