Dentsu Aegis Network seeks to change media trading in the Attention Economy

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Dentsu Aegis Network has revealed the initial findings of an ambitious new project, designed to challenge how the industry thinks about, measures, plans and trades media, based on a measure of attention.

The Attention Economy initiative, backed by a cross-section of broadcasters, social media and video-sharing platforms, was kickstarted 15 months ago, with the group agreeing to work together to challenge the status quo in video advertising. 

Stage one has been a ground-breaking research project, in partnership with Dr Karen Nelson-Field at the Centre for Amplified Intelligence, drawing on data from 17,000 video views and 3,400 panel members in the UK, US and Australia.

The study combines screen data (viewability/time on screen), with eye-gaze tracking and STAS (Short Time Advertising Strength) measures to create a new definition of attention and assess whether a measure can be found that works consistently across platforms.

The results indicate that:

  • The idea that advertising needs to be actively ‘watched’ to be most effective, while true, may be overstated - in fact, ads in peripheral view may have almost as much value as those that are watched “eyes-on”.
  • A mix of attention is the norm.  On average, ads were only looked at directly for one-third of the time, while some 20% of the ads in the study were ignored.
  • Attention works differently across platforms and devices. For example, TV ads were on average the most ignored, yet still deliver the highest impact, while viewability correlates with both audience attention and increased STAS, with the data suggesting that the proposal to increase the Media Rating Council standard from 50% of pixels in view to 100% would make a significant difference. 

Clive Record, Head of Global Media Partnerships at Dentsu Aegis Network said:

“As an industry, we’ve been slow to react as an explosion in media choice has created a real scarcity of audience attention.  In that context, metrics such as impressions, reach and ‘opportunities to see’ are increasingly problematic, as there can be huge differences in the value of those currencies across platforms and devices. 

“These are just first steps, but the results strongly suggest we can use attention to re-think the way media is measured, planned and traded.  Already, our increased understanding of attention can fuel better client strategies at a time when people are avoiding commercial messages more and more.”

The project involves all of Dentsu Aegis Network’s media and performance brands – Carat, Vizeum and dentsuX.  Having consulted with clients on its early findings, Dentsu Aegis Network is now committed to a second phase which, among other things, will explore the impact of audio and creative on attention.