It’s Time to Pay Attention to Attention!

A viewer might see a Jeep racing through muddy backroads and the screen gets splattered; they must “wipe away” the dirt to continue watching the video. Ads Are changing, measurement needs to change with them. 

Will Dorling, UK Director of Brand, AdColony

Earlier this year, when the IAB UK declared February 12 to be National Anti Click-Through Rate Day, calling upon marketers to break the habit of using what is, “at best, a short-term metric that fails to tell the full story,” it was a much-needed rallying cry to the industry to finally move past CTR. “Don’t be a clickhead,” they said.

But this campaign is not just about CTR. It’s about all the vanity metrics: page views, unique visitors, and even social interactions such as likes and favourites – which were initially thought of to be measuring “engagement.” In today’s mobile-first environments, consumers scroll endlessly through feeds, watching a few seconds of this, a few of that. They tap and click on ads and content that if you asked them what it was about a few seconds later, you’d be hard-pressed to get an accurate answer. Their facial expression doesn’t change, and they certainly aren’t feeling particularly strong about your brand. In a word, they are “meh.”

Now, not too long ago, a new metric arose to potentially replace CTR – it was CVV, completed video views. What does this mean? That same consumer made the conscious decision to finish what they were watching all the way to the end. Video advertisers felt great about this metric, because if they watched it all the way to end, it must mean they were paying attention, right?

Not necessarily. Attention is not time spent. Attention means the consumer’s mindset changed from the “meh” we noted earlier to being more focused, more rapt, and more riveted by your message or product. Some amount of thought diverts to it; it is given mindshare, and they are in “consideration mode” – which for most advertisers, is an essential step to move the customer downstream in their journey to purchase. That’s just a first step though, and important one, but still first.

So CVV, yes, will tell you that the viewer watched the video. But it will not tell you if they were engaged with the video. There are dozens of different components that can represent true attention on a video, one of them being eye-tracking data (e.g., aggregated dwell time of fixations on the screen), but many of these fall flat when looking to measure the comprehension of the creative message. That is, a consumer can look at a screen all day, but how do you know they understand or are interested in what they’re seeing?

This is where interactive video formats come in. This video format makes viewers feel compelled in some way to be a part of the advert, to actively participate in it through physical action. For instance, a viewer might see a Jeep racing through muddy backroads and the screen gets splattered; they must “wipe away” the dirt to continue watching the video. Or, in the case of Sony Mobile’s Xperia XZ2, it was dust kicked up by race cars, further immersing the user with the use of haptic effects, making the phone rumble and shake at opportune moments.

That’s not your typical “Tap this button to find a store near you” kind of engagement metric, is it?

Video engagement rates skyrocket for these interactive ads, with the Sony one topping at 78 percent – 25X higher than the benchmark for standard video and rich media. (Brand lift goes up too, with Nielsen showing an 8.6% rise in purchase intent and 4% uplift in brand recall for that campaign.)

Yet the big winner here is the attention score, the way we measure how much they were paying attention. It’s the duration of the window that a user can engage with the video (e.g., 20 seconds out of a 30s spot) compared to the number of seconds (say, 15) that they choose to engage. In that example, the attention score would be 75 percent. This is the ultimate metric because it tells the advertiser that they were not just watching, and not just paying attention in a passive way, but they were actively involved in the creative message of the ad.

So, if you want to know if your viewers are “getting it,” attention score is what you should be paying attention to.

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