What Is Attention Marketing?

April 11, 2024
New York times square with big advertisement billboards
Nandini Agarwal
Written by

Nandini Agarwal

Content Marketer

Have you ever been in a conversation where, by the end, you had no idea what the topic was about because you were lost in your thoughts? That is what happens when we do not pay attention to something. 

Attention is an integral part of our working system; without it, many would be clueless. 

This aspect of human nature can be defined as the ability to actively process specific information in the environment while tuning out other details. 

Imagine you're at a grand fireworks show. You're in awe of the colorful explosions in the night sky, but there's a catch – you can only focus on three fireworks at a time, and each burst only holds your attention for a few seconds. With countless fireworks lighting up, you quickly realize the limits of your attention. This moment illustrates how attention is limited both in capacity and duration, making it crucial to prioritize what you focus on. This specifically makes a marketer’s job difficult, since they must devise strategies to prevent distractors or competitors from diverting attention.

If you are in marketing or advertising and wondering how you can win this game of attention, look no further. From diving into the basics of what types of attention can you aim at to attract consumers to giving real-time examples of ads that nailed this concept, you'll gain insight into strategies for capturing more attention in your campaigns.

Sources of Attention

Let’s get right to the basics — Attention can be influenced if you know the source it comes from. It can come from one of the two sources:

  • Endogenous attention: Also known as top-down attention because here the brain influences what you will pay attention to. For example, you explicitly pay attention to the list of items you need at the grocery store. You will actively pay attention to them since you need them. 

  • Exogenous attention: Also known as bottom-up attention because here the environmental factors decide what you will pay attention to. This is unconscious since you are not planning for it but something from your surroundings captures your attention. For example, in the grocery store, you hear a loud noise, and you divert your attention instantly from the list of things you need to buy to the thing that made that noise. 

As a marketer, what source do you think you should aim at? If you chose the second one (exogenous) then you are on the right track. Most of the time, people will not explicitly look for your ads, so you have to make sure to create a banging environment that will be unignorable. Who knows, if your ad is too good, they will explicitly search for your ads.

Types of Attention

Another aspect of attention that we, as marketers ignore, is — that attention is not a single process but a group of smaller processes. Without the knowledge of these processes, our ads lack depth and clarity. The different types of attention are

  • Sustained Attention: Imagine, you start watching a Netflix show, and from the very first episode, the storyline grips you. Each cliffhanger leaves you hungry for more, and before you know it, you've binged through the entire series in one sitting. That's sustained attention — you can concentrate on a particular task for a long time

  • Selective Attention: Imagine you're at a busy café, trying to focus on your work. Suddenly you hear your favorite song playing faintly in the background. Your attention instantly shifts to the music, drowning out the noise around you. That’s selective attention — you can choose what you want to pay attention to by filtering out the distractions.

  • Divided Attention: Picture this: You're driving down a busy street, listening to your favorite podcast, and suddenly, your GPS gives you a turn-by-turn direction. Your brain is handling both listening to the podcast and navigating the road – that's divided attention! It’s multitasking which leads to less productivity and a lower attention span. 

Marketers don’t just have to fight for attention as a whole but keep these 3 types of attention in mind before launching a campaign. Your ad might satisfy one attention type but misses out on the other two, which can be a loss. Further in the article, you will find tips on how to engage all these types of attention so you leave no stone unturned. 

Attention’s Role in Marketing

Did you know that attention and memory cannot function without one another? Memory has a limited capacity so attention decides what will be remembered. For brands, it’s crucial for their target audience to remember them so they become their loyal customers. If your ads don’t get attention then your brand will also not be remembered. 

In today’s marketing and advertising world, several metrics have been introduced that give insight into how well your brand’s socials and ads are performing. Metrics like engagement, click-through rate (CTR), viewability, etc. give an idea of how many people viewed the ad but they do not guarantee that the viewers also paid attention to it. This makes a big difference and this is the gap that needs to be filled. 

To measure actual attention, Eye-tracking yields promising results. Several studies have been done on it which showcase how buyers react to ads. Eye tracking measures the position and orientation of the eyes. It is a technique that shows exactly how long one has focused on an element in the ad, if their attention went elsewhere, and which part of the ad received the most attention. With such brilliant results, there comes difficulty as well. Eye-tracking can be a costly and time-consuming process, as it requires participants. The data it gathers is also complicated to interpret, hence a professional is required. 

This should not demotivate you because we live in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has the power to gather massive amounts of data in minutes. It does not require participants or experts and works on the data that is already available. If we mix AI technology with Eye-tracking, one can dream of the changes it can get in marketing and advertising. You will not only be able to measure “actual” attention but also validate your results with vast data, thereby saving time and money. 

How can marketers use attention to their advantage?

As a marketer, we ultimately want one thing — advertising that sells! An ad that is ignored is an ad that has no value. To sell your product like hotcakes, get your attention marketing right. Attention marketing is a concept where marketing is all about grabbing and engaging your audience’s attention through non-invasive means like social media. Through attention marketing, you will focus on how to capture someone’s limited attention.

It is not difficult to achieve this if you follow these guidelines and if you have the right tools. 

  • Aim at the source: As it was mentioned above, an exogenous attention source is the one marketers can manipulate in their favor. Using “contrast” in your ad is the way to go. Think of a simple example, like a billboard. Which billboard would get more attention — the one that looks like every other billboard or the one that breaks this pattern? The latter is the one and using contrast can help achieve this. Making the billboard a little tilted, or creating a high contrast object against the background would automatically catch people’s eyes. This works best for selective attention. 

  • Make your brand visible: This is an obvious one yet many fail to achieve this. No matter how attractive your ad is, if your audience fails to see which brand it represents then the ad has failed to achieve its goal. To make your brand memorable, 
    • Make your logo clear and a central point of attention in your ad 
    • Use a color that has a high contrast with the background so your brand stands out. 
    • Pro tip: show your brand logo at the beginning and at the end of your ad as your viewers pay the most attention during those times. 

  • Make your ad stand out from the rest: When advertising on YouTube there are many distractors such as the video suggestions on the right side and the comments at the bottom. This leads to divided attention which is not the best for remembering your brand/ad. To change this division of attention into sustained or selective attention favoring your ad, try playing with these elements:
    • Use faces in your ad as they grab the most attention since our brains are tuned to always look at where a face is.
    • Guide the viewer’s attention to a clear focus point in the middle of the screen rather than cluttering the advertisement. 
    • Use large and clear text with contrast. 

  • Make your ad easy to understand: Try to decode what this sentence is saying, “I am currently involved in the intricate process of vending a slender cylindrical writing tool commonly referred to as a "pencil" for monetary exchange.” In simple terms, it means “I am selling a pencil”. When things get complicated, we start to lose interest. A person selling a pencil in simple terms would make more sales compared to the other who leaves his audience confused. This same logic goes with advertising and to keep the sustained attention intact towards your product,
    • Avoid having too many focal points but keep one thing as the center of attention.
    • Avoid many scene changes or using split screens.

Now that you know how to play around with different attention types and tips on engaging your audience in the most effective ways possible, it’s time to introduce the tool that can make your brand the king of attention. 

As was mentioned above, a tool that uses AI for vast data analysis in collaboration with eye-tracking is the one that will change the face of predicting “actual” attention. No more assumptions are required as is one such tool that uses AI to create attention prediction heatmaps by using Eye-tracking data. gives real-time insights into how your YouTube ad captures your viewer’s attention. It shows a second-by-second representation of your ad’s performance and gives a score to show which elements of your ad can be improved. 

It gives an insight into how well your brand is doing in getting attention (Brand Attention score) if your ad is succeeding in breaking through the distractors (Ad Breakthrough score), and if your ad is easily understood by the viewers (Cognitive Ease score). 

Once you upload your ad on’s platform, through the scores you can make changes in your ad to satisfy all the guidelines to nail attention marketing. You can benchmark your best-scored ad which can be a guide for your other upcoming advertisements.

Examples of Brands That Nailed Attention Marketing

Now that you have the secrets of attention marketing in your hand, let’s see which brands succeeded in nearly having a perfect score on got an excellent score on this advertisement. Take a minute, look back at what you have read, and think about what made this ad score a perfect 100. 

See if you got all these points right:

  • used contrast to highlight the couple as the center of attention. The surroundings are dull colors compared to the night wears of the couple which made them pop out. 
  • They used faces and only one center of attention in the middle. They also made use of large texts.
  • They displayed their brand name in the beginning and at the end. Throughout the video, their brand name was also visible in the upper right corner.  
  • They made the video short and easy to understand. No scene changes, no split screens, only the couple in the center which made everything easy to process. 

Did you manage to get all these points right? If not, that’s alright as you can try to pinpoint areas where the next advertisement nailed at attention marketing. 

Hellmann’s ad scored 99 on Junbi making it a complete attention-grabbing ad. What do you think made this ad an attention magnet? 

Hellmann’s ad used these elements to make it excellent:

  • They used contrast. Against the white background was their product displayed in an oversized way next to two tiny humans. This made it unique and eye-catching. 
  • They also used faces, a central point of attention, and big text at the end, keeping viewers engaged. 
  • Their brand was displayed throughout the video because of their oversized product that was placed in the middle.
  • The ad had a good storyline and not many scene changes which made it easy to understand. 

Did you get all these points right this time? If yes, then you are all set to make your advertisement score a perfect 100 on 

If you are not an advertiser on YouTube but you would like to get attention marketing right, there is something for you as well. 

If you are aiming for other creatives like banners, brochures, product packaging, UI/UX design, and so on, then there is that will keep your attention marketing game strong. You can upload your creative on it and get a heatmap displaying where people will be paying the most attention at. 

You can also choose an area of interest to predict if it will get enough attention and according to the score gives, you can make the necessary changes. 

An example of what does is shown in the image below.

Here, revealed which logo placement on a billboard would work best. 

Overall, when in doubt, upload your creative on and see how much attention will your ad get. 


With these guidelines and the right tools, you are all set to practice attention marketing. Trial and error is the way to go. Benchmarking your best-performing ads or creatives can act as your light in the dark tunnel so you get the sales worth your efforts!  

Use what you learned in this blog. Work smart, not hard by using the psychology of your audience rather than assumptions. The AI tools mentioned above — and can help you understand what attracts your audience which can up your game in attention marketing. Get started now! 

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