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Why the Attention Economy matters

By Katie Hartley
Product Partner, Dentsu Data Labs


It is both instinctive and proven that attention is critical to effective advertising. But with an ever-increasing supply of inventory available and the average person now estimated to be exposed to 4k commercial messages a day – a better understanding of where attention can be attained and how, is becoming ever more pertinent.

At Dentsu, we’ve embarked on a multi-year research programme that takes a deep dive into attention and looks at the value system at its core. We believe the industry needs to better plan for attention, trade on attention, report against attention and even optimise creative toward it.

Legacy systems and behaviours often fall foul of treating impressions equally, basing budget recommendations on cost and reach, leading to a prioritisation of cheaper reach driving channels, irrespective of contextual and other considerations.

Whilst an impression gives us an opportunity to see, it is only if that opportunity converts to actually being seen (or heard) that the brand has a genuine opportunity to communicate and it makes sense that this opportunity will differ greatly across different channels, platforms, situations and so on.

Even in the digital space, optimising toward viewability metrics only gives an impression the best opportunity to be seen and lumen research shows that only 20% of desktop viewable impressions go on to actually be seen. So it’s clear that even planning to our best version of an opportunity to see (viewability) doesn’t go far enough. Digital disruption has rendered this traditional media measure redundant.

Partnering with key research players in the attention space – including acclaimed academic institution, the Centre for Amplified Intelligence and the attention technology company, Lumen -  Dentsu has started to identify the true communication value of an impression. 

When it comes to magazine media, I think we can expect to see positive results from this type of evaluation. It’s a well-known fact that magazine advertising is actively welcomed and so it doesn’t feel like a great leap of faith to expect this to translate to attention paid to that advertising. This certainly chimes with the IAB's Rules of Attention study which reported being in a premium content environment (and highlighted both magazine and newsbrand environments here) as the single biggest drivers of attention online.

Katie will be sharing more from Dentsu’s finding’s on attention at Spark North, February 26 in Manchester. Contact spark@magnetic.media to reserve your place.