Need to Know: The Defining Measures of Attention 

In our highly saturated digital world, catching and keeping consumer attention is key. We explore the benefits of measuring attention, the tech leading advancements around the metric, and what we can expect moving forward.  

Attention has been front and centre of many advertisers’ campaign strategies in recent years, and it certainly makes sense. In today’s fast-paced digital world, we are typically exposed to an incredibly high number of ads each day, at almost every moment imaginable. But what use is a good ad without an attentive consumer? Catching and keeping consumer attention is more important for advertisers than ever.   

What makes attention an attractive metric? 

Improved understanding of campaign performance 

As the advertising landscape has become increasingly fragmented, the need to measure campaign performance has become more pronounced. Up until attention became a popular metric, many advertisers relied primarily on metrics such as impressions and viewability and click-through rates. Going beyond these traditional metrics, attention has shown itself to be an excellent metric for advertisers measuring the success of their campaigns. 

Attention can offer advertisers a more comprehensive understanding of how consumers are engaging with their ads, allowing them to grasp the performance of particular ad placements, as well as specific creatives used in their campaigns. Consequently, measuring attention enables advertisers to better gauge whether their campaigns are actually influencing consumers’ buying behaviour. Additionally, measuring attention can help advertisers optimise their campaigns more effectively. For the best results, advertisers should consider testing the results of optimising to specific attention metrics. 

Effective for a cookieless environment 

With Chrome’s third-party cookie depreciation now on the horizon for 2025, advertisers need to think of measurement for the future. Once third-party cookies are gone, advertisers will not be able to accurately measure reach or frequency through viewability. Not relying on the collection or processing of users’ third-party data, attention is a metric which suits a cookieless ecosystem. 

Reducing waste and lowering costs 

Reducing ad waste is a critical issue for many advertisers, exacerbated with the increasing number of made-for-advertising sites popping up all over the internet. With a better grasp on how their ads are influencing consumers, advertisers are in a position to reduce their ad waste, and consequently lower campaign costs. By embracing attention, advertisers can move away from the quantity over quality approach which is often a result of the use of traditional metrics such as viewability. 

Going green 

In tandem with reducing ad waste comes increased sustainability. Attention has long been hailed as a sustainable metric. By nature, the metric facilitates improved efficiency through serving fewer impressions, allowing advertisers to lower their carbon footprint. Although attention cannot serve as a be all and end all to advertisers’ sustainable efforts, it can be one of the many puzzle pieces which fit together to build a more sustainable future for ad tech.  

What’s in it for publishers? 

With a large portion of advertisers prioritising attention as one of their preferred campaign performance metrics, it’s evident why publishers should be interested. For clear reasons, many media buyers prefer inventories with high attention, and will include attention metrics in budgets as well as campaign objectives. By tracking the attention of ad placements, publishers are in a better position to make decisions about the pricing of placements, for example, or how many ad units they should offer. 

What ad tech is out there?

Attention measurement is generally broken down into several factors including creative, placement, duration, location, exposure, size and clutter, among others. Recent years have seen the possibilities of attention measurement expand massively, with several industry vendors employing tech such as eye-tracking. Eye-tracking data has paved the way for many of the advancements in attention measurement – typically leveraged alongside biometric data and research insights. This can then be used to build predictive models which estimate the attention that will be given to an ad based on its characteristics. By tying these predictions to desired outcomes, campaigns can be more effectively linked to business goals. 

What are the challenges? 

Firstly, attention still lacks a clear industry-wide definition. A major hurdle for advertisers when it comes to attention is that there is not yet a standard industry metric for its measurement. The lack of standardisation can bring about challenges for advertisers when comparing their campaigns across different platforms on which metrics are not aligned, such as for web, social or CTV. This inconsistency can make it more difficult for advertisers to understand the overall impact of an omnichannel campaign. As usual, the fragmented manner in which people consume content can complicate matters for advertisers. 

Currently, attention measurement also requires brands and advertisers to work with partners as it’s a complex process requiring huge amounts of data. This could either be a benefit or hindrance, depending on a company’s preferences. Some may want to offload the process to those specialised to deal with it, while others may be more keen to keep costs down or prefer a simpler campaign execution without the involvement of more parties than required. 

The future of attention 

A standardised metric is desired by many, but it’s unclear when or if this will be established. As advertisers look to better understand how they can drive improved campaign outcomes, attention measurement can certainly play an important role. Naturally, ads that capture more attention typically lead to better campaign outcomes – studies have shown that attention can predict campaign outcomes much more accurately than viewability. Looking to the future, the industry will undoubtedly usher in other attention measurement tools which will be increasingly precise and scalable. However, it’s of course vital to note that attention is not the sole determinant of a successful campaign. Attention is just one of many factors which can contribute to improving business outcomes for brands, and should be considered among additional campaign KPIs and objectives.