Marketing

Attention Metrics: Is this a better measure of advertising success than performance metrics?

March 28, 2024
A graph on a wooden table, with a person pointing at a chart with their pen

In the realm of advertising, understanding what works and what doesn't is key to achieving your goals. Imagine running a race without knowing the finish line. Advertising is no different. We need metrics – the yardsticks that tell us how well our efforts are paying off. Measuring advertising success is like checking your GPS to ensure you're on the right route. It's not just about keeping score; it's about making informed decisions to reach your destination – a successful campaign. Let's delve into the world of advertising metrics and see how they can guide us to better results.

The traditional approach which uses impressions and clicks to gather information about consumer's interactions with advertisements is now migrating to “attention” metrics that provide deeper insights into ad engagement and viewership. 

In this article, we will give an in-depth look at what attention and performance metrics are and which one is better at measuring advertising success. This comparison will give you clarity into understanding what ‘seems’ to work vs. what ‘actually’ works in tracking an ad’s performance.

What Are Attention metrics?

Imagine you're at a packed stadium, watching an exciting soccer match. You're focused on the game, following every pass and goal attempt. Suddenly, a streaker dashes onto the field, creating a commotion. Your attention shifts from the game to the unexpected spectacle.

In this scenario, the soccer match represents the content, while the streaker's interruption is like what attention metrics measure in advertising. Attention metrics track when and why viewers divert their focus from an ad to something else, just as you shifted your attention from the game to the streaker's unexpected interruption. These metrics help advertisers understand how engaging their ads are and identify opportunities to capture and maintain viewers' attention effectively.

These metrics can measure and optimise brand outcomes, particularly awareness and recall. Take Mondelez, the company behind yummy treats like Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolates, for example. They used attention metrics to discover that when more people noticed their ads (known as high exposure impressions), more folks started liking their brands (brand favorability went up by 9%), and more people considered buying their delicious snacks (brand consideration increased by 8%).

Paul Sigaloff, vice president and head of Asia-Pacific at Yahoo, says that when ads grab more attention, they make a bigger impact. And when ads have a bigger impact, more people are likely to buy the stuff being advertised. Even if a company's main goal is just to get people to know about their products, brand awareness, getting folks engaged with the ads helps them remember the brand better. So, it's like a win-win for everyone!

Ways of Measuring Attention

There are numerous ways to measure attention. Attention metrics use various types of data that are analyzed by a computer program. This program predicts how likely it is that a specific media or creative content will hold the interest of an imagined audience. For example, the above image shows an attention heatmap that is generated by the AI expoze.io. The percentage shows how much attention the boxed element (area of interest) is predicted to get. 

Here are some ways to measure attention:

  • Eye Tracking: 

Imagine knowing exactly where someone's eyes wander when they watch an ad. Eye tracking technology does just that. It records every flicker of the viewer's gaze, revealing which parts of the ad steal the spotlight. Do they fixate on the product, hang on to a catchy message, or are they captivated by a character? Advertisers use this treasure trove of insights to fine-tune their ad elements for maximum impact.

Advantage: Precision in optimizing ad elements.

Disadvantage: Can be costly and may require specialized equipment.

  • Gaze Prediction:

Gaze prediction forecasts where viewers will look next within an ad. Using fancy algorithms and historical eye movement data, this technology predicts the viewer's visual journey. Advertisers then strategically place crucial information or visuals where eyes are bound to linger, transforming their ads into attention magnets.

Advantage: Enhanced ad impact through strategic placement.

Disadvantage: Requires advanced algorithms and data analysis.

  • Facial Coding:

Ever wished you could read people's emotions as they watch your ad? Facial coding does precisely that. Cutting-edge software deciphers micro-expressions, revealing whether viewers feel joy, surprise, frustration, or engagement. This emotional roadmap guides advertisers to tailor their messages for desired emotional responses, forging a deeper connection with the audience.

Advantage: Crafting emotionally resonant ads.

Disadvantage: May require specialized software and expertise.

  • Panel-Based Eye Tracking:

Imagine having a group of willing participants who agree to let their eye movements be monitored while watching ads. That's panel-based eye tracking. It offers aggregated data along with demographic insights about viewers. Advertisers can then identify which demographics are most enthralled by their ads and refine their targeting strategies accordingly.

Advantage: In-depth demographic insights for precise targeting.

Disadvantage: Requires participant recruitment and consent.

What Are Performance Metrics?

 

Now imagine you're at a grand musical concert. The performance metrics are like the roaring applause and cheers from the audience. They tell you how much the crowd enjoyed the show, how many people were dancing, and how many asked for an encore. In the advertising world, performance metrics are those cheers and applause. They measure how well the ad 'performed' among the audience. Did they click? Did they buy the album (product)? Did they sing along (engage)? These metrics tell the advertisers if the show was a hit or a miss. Just like a rockstar thrives on the audience's reaction, advertisers thrive on performance metrics to fine-tune their 'performance' (advertising strategy) for the next gig (campaign).

Performance metrics are highly scalable. These insights help a marketing team know if they're achieving their goals, like getting new customers, making people more aware of their brand, getting people engaged, selling products, generating leads, and more. They also act like an early warning system, telling the team if their marketing isn't working well. This helps them make quick decisions to fix things in their campaigns.

Types of Performance Metrics

There are many metrics that show the performance of your campaign, some of the top performance metrics are:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR):

CTR is the percentage of people who click on your ad after seeing it. For example, imagine you're running an online shoe store, and you create a catchy ad showcasing your new collection of sneakers. If 1,000 people see your ad, and 50 of them click on it to view the sneakers, your CTR is 5%. It shows how effective your ad is at getting people to take action.

Advantage: Measures the effectiveness of ad campaigns in driving user actions.

Disadvantage: Doesn't account for click quality, and high CTR doesn't guarantee conversions.

  • Impressions:

Impressions are the number of times your ad is displayed or viewed, regardless of whether it's clicked or not. Suppose your sneaker ad appears on a website and is shown 10,000 times to different visitors. You've generated 10,000 impressions. It measures how many eyeballs your ad attracts.

Advantage: Measures ad visibility and is essential for brand exposure.

Disadvantage: Doesn't guarantee user interaction or provide insights into user behavior.

  • Engagement:

Engagement refers to any interaction people have with your content or ad, like liking, sharing, or commenting. For example, after clicking on your sneaker ad, some viewers might share it on social media, while others leave positive comments about the sneakers' design. These actions are all forms of engagement, indicating that your ad resonated with the audience.

Advantage: Shows how well your content resonates with the audience.

Disadvantage: Definitions and measurements can vary across platforms, and high engagement doesn't guarantee conversions.

  • Viewability:

Viewability measures if your ad was viewable to users, typically referring to how much of the ad was visible on the screen. If you place an ad at the bottom of a webpage, and only 30% of it is visible without scrolling, then the ad's viewability is 30%. Advertisers aim for high viewability to ensure their message gets across effectively.

Advantage: Ensures ads are seen as intended, improving message delivery.

Disadvantage: Primarily applicable to display ads, and determining viewability can be complex.

In essence, CTR shows how compelling your ad is, impressions measure its reach, engagement gauges the audience's response, and viewability ensures your ad is seen in the right way. These metrics help marketers fine-tune their advertising strategies for better results.

What Is A Better Measure of Advertising Success: Attention Metrics or Performance Metrics?

Now that you have a clear understanding of what attention and performance metrics are, what do you think would be more reliable in measuring advertising success? 

Currently, what is really changing is the indicators that can be used to predict performance and understand why an ad might be more successful than another. Attention metrics are therefore gaining popularity because they succeed performance metrics in those terms. Viewability is becoming a thing of the past but other performance metrics such as CTR, engagement rate, and conversion rate are still important as they valuable information to companies about their ROIs and how well they areperforming. According to a survey in November 2022, 36% of ad buyers in the US intend to emphasize attention metrics, indicating a possible departure from measurements solely based on viewability.

This is happening for a reason — imagine that you have posted an ad online and the performance metrics show that you gained a good number of impressions and your viewability rate was high. This would nudge you into thinking that your ad performed well but your conversion rate shows you something else. You are getting fewer customers compared to what you had expected looking at the performance metrics. This aspect keeps you wondering what went wrong and how can this be improved. After several trials and errors, investing heavy money and time, you get your results! 

In this process, performance metrics gave you an idea of how your ad was performing once it was released but it did not guarantee if people actually paid attention to it. 

Attention metrics are good predictors of ad performance, and that metrics like viewability and impressions are 'vanity' metrics and don't really provide insight into the effectiveness of an ad. Attention and memory are related to each other, if people don’t pay attention to your ads, they will not remember your brand. This is the reason why we need attention metrics! 

Limitations of Performance Metrics

Performance metrics can be divided into two: vanity and genuine metrics. Vanity metrics are superficial and often focus on quantity rather than quality. They create a positive image but lack actionable insights. Vanity metrics don't directly contribute to business growth or goals.

Some examples are social media followers, impressions, viewability and raw download numbers.

Genuine performance metrics are meaningful and actionable, providing insights into real business outcomes. They are directly linked to achieving business objectives and can guide decision-making. They measure success and effectiveness. Some examples include conversion rates, customer acquisition cost (CAC), ROI, customer retention rate, and Net Promoter Score (NPS).

It is important for one to distinguish between them and choose the one that gives actual insight. Vanity metrics like impressions, clicks, and viewability have long served as the go-to tools for assessing the performance of digital ads. However, these metrics have notable limitations in today's advertising landscape.

Impressions indicate how often an ad loads on screens, but they don't guarantee that users actually see or engage with the ad. Therefore, impressions provide a weak proxy for genuine ad exposure.

Clicks merely signify a user's intent to interact with an ad, without revealing whether the ad resonated positively with the audience. High click rates, especially on intrusive ads, could indicate user frustration rather than genuine interest.

Viewability pertains to ads that remain on-screen for a specified time and meet pixel requirements. However, viewability alone doesn't equate to capturing user attention, as users may have ads running in a background tab while multitasking.

The 'Viewable Impressions' approach employs stricter criteria, demanding that at least 50% of ad pixels be visible in an actively focused browser tab for a minimum of one second. Nevertheless, this still falls short of accurately measuring active user attention.

What about metrics such as video completion rates, or audibility? Achieving these metrics may also not necessarily indicate genuine attention.

For example, if an ad is audible but muted while you listen to a podcast at full volume through headphones, or if a video ad completes while you briefly leave your device after just two seconds, does this truly count as attention?

Actions such as clicks, scrolls, and mouse hovers provide insights, but they offer an incomplete view of attention. These data rely on obvious interactions, which are suitable for interactive content but not for non-interactive content.

Moreover, metrics based on interactions and clicks can encourage the creation of clickbait rather than ensuring a top-notch user experience. 

As third-party cookies are gradually phased out and user privacy protections are reinforced, conventional advertising metrics are becoming increasingly unclear, failing to offer precise insights into campaign effectiveness.

Attention Metrics are the Next Step

Attention metrics are gaining popularity because they provide predictive insight on what could be improved in the ad to gain attention, before even releasing the ad. These metrics use the psychology of people which aims right at the source to guarantee the viewer’s attentiveness.  

Eye-tracking can give an accurate depiction of where the viewer’s eyes are hovering and for how long, which gives an unrivaled insight into attention. Those who can’t afford this method can opt for gaze prediction or panel-based eye-tracking, which uses AI and vast eye-movement data from diverse populations to make accurate predictions of attention.

AI tools like Junbi.ai and expoze.io are offering attention metrics that give reliable results in minutes. They display heatmaps that accurately predict where the viewer’s attention will go when they look at your ad or creative. 

Junbi.ai gives real-time insights into how your YouTube ad captures your viewer’s attention. It gives scores of attention based on three elements such as brand attention, cognitive ease (if people understand your ad), and ad breakthrough (if people are getting distracted). These predictions are taken from panel-based eye-tracking data which can save you time and money by using attention metrics. 

The image below is a screenshot of Junbi’s platform. It analyzed Levi Strauss & Co. YouTube ad to predict how well it would perform in gaining attention from the viewers. The advertisement scored poorly and the elements that depreciated the ad’s value are shown by Junbi as well, which can be seen in the three elements score.

expoze.io predicts attention on your creative and gives a percentage of how much attention your entire creative or a particular element of your creative will receive. For example, in the image below, the logo of Burger King is marked as the area of interest, which is predicted to receive 3.4% of attention. This could be compared with its competitor banners to see which one would attract more attention. 

These tools are changing the game in measuring advertising success and are taking marketing/advertising world a step further into understanding their target audience better as well as getting more convertible results

How to integrate attention metrics into your next campaign?

To begin with, leverage insights gained from your attention metrics to pinpoint the most effective ad formats, placements, and messaging approaches. This information can shape future campaign optimizations and provide valuable insights into what resonates with your target audience.

Next, utilize attention metrics to fine-tune bidding strategies and budget allocations. If certain formats or placements consistently drive more attention and engagement, consider allocating more resources to those areas.

Lastly, cross-reference attention metrics with critical performance indicators like conversions and sales. This comparison reveals the relationship between attention and concrete outcomes, guiding impactful advertising choices.

Conclusion

In advertising, the shift in attention measurement is about leaving behind possibilities and likelihoods and heading toward tangible and conclusive results.

This transformation begins when marketing and advertising leaders recognize attention as a key predictor of outcomes  and reconfigure their brand objectives, tactics, and structure based on crucial attention metrics. They should use performance metrics to show a lift in brand awareness, conversions, and sales, but not soley depend on them!

Overall, performance metrics are not completely baseless and when used with attention metrics, they can make a marketers job more insightful. Performance metrics have the power of collecting massive data in no time whereas attention metrics uses the already collected data to predict accurate results, both of them combined can supercharge the advertising world. 

Spice up your strategy today! Combine the power of performance metrics with cutting-edge tools like Junbi.ai and expoze.io for precise, conversion-driven results. Don't miss out on advertising excellence – let's get started!

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