Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Ecommerce brands shouldn’t settle for being seen – they should demand attention

By Simon Kvist Gaulshoj, CEO of Adnami

As anyone who has ever driven a car knows, the fact that other vehicles go past you all the time doesn’t mean you will necessarily remember their make, model and registration. Yes, you saw them, but you weren’t particularly paying attention to anything other than not hitting them.

So research from Dentsu, challenging the validity of ‘viewability’ as a measure of advertising effectiveness and proposing ‘attention’ as a more reliable predictor, makes a definite kind of everyday sense. A lot of ads go by as we navigate the web, but are they really effective if we hardly ever pay attention to them?

Currently, Media Ratings Council standards say 50% of a display or mobile ad – or 30% for large display ads – must be in view for one continuous second to count as effective, while video must be 50% in view for two continuous seconds. Dentsu suggests that these “do not fully represent real audience behaviour” and that media buyers would be better served by a ‘seconds of Attention per 000’ metric, combined with other relevant data – forced versus optional views, the role of sound, creative fit and targeting.

Metrics are important, because ads tend to do what they need to: if they only need to be viewable, that’s all they will aim for. But if they need to generate attention, that is a different matter, requiring different ads.

Traditional display advertising has not been designed to build attention and drive long term brand impact, but to deliver short-term value measured in impressions and clicks. As digital consumption habits continue their pandemic pattern of shifting away from the traditional branding and awareness channels and towards hand-held digital ones, the emphasis is now on digital to generate real brand impact. That means marketers must consider alternative ways to reach consumers in a crowded digital environment.

Smart ecommerce brands are coming to appreciate digital as a media channel that can deliver brand impact throughout the customer journey, from awareness and interest to desire and action.

The smart social channels already know this – TikTok is the latest to launch a Brand Lift function offering brands deeper consumer insights. But while social platforms have been quick to develop innovative advertising opportunities, the display market is still playing catch-up.

However, innovations in the high impact display space are steadily introducing new and exciting tools for forward-thinking marketers in their pursuit of attention. High impact formats – those that are bigger and bolder than standard, ranging from fluid skins and vertical video scrollers to top- or mid-scrollers – speak to this new attention economy, with their ability to capture users’ attention and facilitate brand impact through engaging rich media creative.

Essentially high impact ads take over the visual dimension of the website with eye-catching creative that stops consumers in their tracks – not just technically viewable but genuinely impactful. Think about the passing cars again. Imagine a car that is twice the size of all the others on the road, custom-designed, beautiful to behold and keen to leave an impression – that is the one you look at, and it’s the only one you remember.

Combined with effective targeting to ensure that ads hit the right demographic in the right context, interaction rates for high impact ads are high and action significantly more likely. 

Advertising requires creativity, but it also requires freshness and difference. Consumers who spend a huge number of hours on their computers or smartphones inevitably begin to tune out conventional digital banner advertising, however well tailored those ads might be to their audience.

High impact ads are those that consider all of this context – the need for real attention, the banner-blindness, the ineffectiveness of a steady procession of the same kind of advertising – and they rise to the challenge of taking it on in order to drive impact and action.

In a cluttered, changing market, in which brands are desperate for meaningful attention and sustained ROI, high impact formats are increasingly impossible to ignore – for consumers and advertisers alike.