3 Ways Attention Technology Will Change Advertising for the Better

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We live in a world where people have an average of around 10-20 tabs open as they browse the internet. Social content – and the ads with them – fly by with the swipe of a thumb. On average, people spend about eight seconds on a webpage. Only one in five remember a brand the next day after seeing an ad if they saw the ad at all. 

Consumers have become so selective that they simply don’t see ads. At Lumen, we’ve measured millions of attention impressions based on eye-tracking panels and predictive models. Our rule of thumb is simple: “viewable” isn’t viewed. When your ads are delivered, there’s no guarantee they’re seen. Our data shows that for some digital formats only 30% of “viewable ads” are actually viewed. The rest are delivered, paid for – and ignored.. 

But knowing something is different from being able to do something about it. Attention data is interesting, but attention predictions are useful. At Lumen, we build predictive models of attention, based on data from our eye tracking panels and powered by machine learning algorithms. These models can optimise buying strategies, directing investment towards the ad formats, inventory, and creative that actually get seen, not just delivered. 

The predictive models can be integrated pre-bid – within ‘attention PMPs’ or as custom algorithms within DSPs like Google’s DV 360 system – and post-bid, as the next generation of viewability tag. The attention estimates we provide can be linked to brand lift and sales lift studies as well as performance marketing signals to help advertisers understand both the ‘cost’ and ‘value’ of attention. It’s a new way of thinking about the ad experience by centering campaigns on a human-first metric: attention. 

Here are three reasons predictive attention will change advertising for the better:


1. Publishers with Premium Content Experiences Become More Valuable.  

Websites with poor user experiences and high traffic can drive high ad spend because they guarantee high viewability. If you optimise an ad campaign for viewability, the priority for the campaign is based on volume, deliverability, and impressions. That means your budget is often invested in smaller ad formats, publishers cluttered with ads, and clickbait rather than premium content that encourages visitors to dwell on the page. Consumers don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on publishers or platforms with a poor user experience, but if you throw enough ads at them, there might be a few stray clicks. 

Predictive attention data can fundamentally change bidding strategies. That’s because publishers with premium content drive longer dwell times and deep media engagement. Visitors spend more time on premium content and, consequently, spend more time actually looking at the ads.  

By integrating custom, attention-first algorithms for media mixes, advertisers will get better results and publishers with premium content experiences will become more valuable. As attention replaces traffic as a signal for high-quality inventory, publishers producing original, engaging content consumers read and watch without distraction will replace the inventory reliant on clickbait or low-value content.


2. Ad Creative and Branding Becomes More Important than Ever.  

When an ad campaign is purely focused on outcomes like engagement and conversions, ad creative is almost always focused on discounts, sales, and big, clickable call-to-action buttons… and almost every ad starts to look the same.

Attention-first advertising optimises ads for view rate, view time, device, ad format and size, ad position, domain, and ad clutter and allows advertisers to test, understand, and predict how consumers will see the ad creative itself at scale. 

With Lumen’s eye-tracking technology, we do this in three ways:

  • Heatmaps show the activity of the visual journey and where the eye most often focuses. 
  • Gazeplots identify the order in which the eye travels across different parts of the ad. 
  • Feature analysis breaks down which parts of the ad creative are noticed the most. 

Attention technology can be used to optimise ad creative in different environments before it deploys at scale. That means you can set up lookalike Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other in-context experiences, test the ad performance against an attention panel, and get insights into how consumers see the creative with eye-tracking technology. Advertisers can understand what literally catches the eye and iterate based on ad format, creative design, and channel. 

Major brands like Heineken have started to use attention scores to drive more effective creative investments with major campaigns. 

We see attention as an evolution, a next step, versus viewability,” Fernanda Saboya, director of consumer connections at Heineken Brazil said to AdExchanger recently. “Measuring attention is important for us to understand how we are evolving our media and creative investments.

With ad creative that prioritises attention instead of clicks, there will be a renaissance of new creative designed to actually be worth the consumer’s attention, not just their engagement. 


3. Attention Becomes the Definitive Cross-Media Attribution Layer.  

How do you measure the impact of a Facebook campaign against a CTV ad? Or the performance of a YouTube ad with a display campaign? 

Every channel and format offers a different ad experience, which means there are different metrics to measure. That’s also why about half of marketers say that a lack of standardised cross-channel measurement is a big challenge. Attention, as a single and fungible metric across all media, can streamline cross-media measurement to unlock new insights into ad effectiveness and ad efficiency. No matter what channel you need to measure, “view time” means the same thing across every platform: consumers became interested and looked at your ad or they didn’t. 

Attention technology enables a new top-line metric for advertisers to understand the cross-channel performance of a campaign on a macro level as well as the channels on a micro-level, making it easy to see where investments need to be changed. And when attention becomes the best way to streamline measurement, publishers, consumers, and advertisers will all benefit from a human-first metric. 

The Golden Age of the Attention Economy 

The multi-device, multi-channel world has become noisy and competitive. Consumers are fatigued by the traditional ad experience. At the same time, the deprecation of standard tracking technology like cookies and the increasingly expensive cost of advertising has made efficiency and effectiveness the top priorities for all advertisers. Through custom algorithms, ad creative testing, and measurement, attention technology can integrate across the advertising stack to help with those challenges.

More importantly, by optimising ad strategies for attention, advertisers will build campaigns that are based on what’s most important to today’s highly selective consumers and start changing the digital ecosystem for the better.