Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why it’s not just attention that matters in 2022

By Dominic Woolfe, CEO at Azerion UK

Like the rest of our industry, I’ve enjoyed reading the diverse range of predictions and forecasting that comes with the early part of the year.

Among the most popular pieces of commentary is the theme of attention. However, we want to interpret it, it’s obvious that attention is big news in 2022.

Attention is the natural successor to viewability, fuelled by advancements in creativity and measurement, which has led the renewed focus on this important metric. After all, getting eyeballs and ears on an ad is a fundamental part of the whole industry.

Adapting to consumer change

This is especially important in 2022, because as well as being the age of attention, it’s also the age of great consumer change. The pandemic and remote working has upturned established behaviours, forcing many people to re-evaluate how they live their lives.

This includes greater awareness of the economy and cost of living, the value of brand purpose, and issues of responsibility such as climate change and inclusion. For example, dentsu’s ‘Rise of Sustainable Media Report’ found that 91% of respondents want brands to demonstrate they are making positive choices about the planet.

It’s also accelerated changes in the type of content we consume, including massive rises in subscription TV and online gaming with a 39% increase in time spent playing during the pandemic.

Put simply, brands have had to quickly adapt their creative and media placements to changes in audience behaviour. As Group M’s Mark Read has said, “The speed and extent of change has never been seen before”.

Getting attention is just the start

With this in mind, there is caution to be had in becoming too consumed in believing attention is the simple solution to advertising objectives in the changing world we now live in. 

For attention to be a valuable advertising mechanic, the concept of getting attention is just the start. It’s the impact of that attention on the performance of your brand that matters – crucial at a time where the link between brand and performance advertising is getting increasingly close.

After all, what’s the value of attention if the ad creative and media placement hasn’t been aligned to the changing consumer behaviour of the audience? Or it’s delivered inefficiently by poor technology? Or if the value of the attention is not understood or measured by ineffective means. 

Get it wrong and attention time spent on your ad can easily have a negative impact on your brand and prevent consumers from buying your product.

Five rules to maximise the impact of attention

So, whether you’re an established brand trying to protect market share, or a challenger brand trying to take it, how can brands take advantage of attention and navigate this changing climate? Here are five inter-linking areas that must work together:

1.           Insight

  • As highlighted, much has changed in the last two years so understanding your audience with both quantitative and qualitative insight creates a strong foundation to inform creativity and media placement aligned to changing behaviours.

2.           Creative

  • Let’s not forget creativity has more impact on your brand than anything else – especially attention. Investing in an impactful and engaging user experience should not only capture attention but also elicit an emotional response.

3.           Technology

  • Ad budgets are increasing but campaigns simply have to work harder to perform in the current climate. Utilising appropriate ad technology is key to unlocking efficiencies in targeting (against behaviour/data/context), programmatic buying and campaign delivery. 

4.           Content

  • Attention to an ad is enhanced by the content and viewing experience around it. Premium and relevancy to behaviour and context still matters. Increasingly popular environments such as gaming offer new ways to tap into attentive audiences.

5.           Measurement

  • This is not the age to mark your own homework. Credible, independent measurement that shows attention has a demonstrable effect on both brand and performance has to be the minimum expectation in understanding the effectiveness of a campaign.

Attention. Brand. Performance

As we recover from the pandemic and adapt to changing consumer behaviours, there’s never been a more fascinating and exciting time to build a brand and deliver advertising performance.

But, whilst we currently sit in the ‘age of attention’, let’s not forget what advertisers have always demanded. They want consumers to think, feel, and behave more positively about their brand, and for more people to buy their products and services.

There’s no single solution but those who look to combine insight, creative, tech, content, and measurement will not only gain the attention that the industry craves, but also benefit from its effect on their brand and campaign performance.

*Azerion is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, owner of NDA