April 25, 2023

The 3 Glaring Weaknesses of Attention “Metrics”

One of the biggest trends in Ad Effectiveness is the rise of Attention Metrics. Attention is being embedded into the backbone of the programmatic ecosystem. Some even suggest it could become a replacement currency for the ad world. That makes some sense, since how much time a consumer spends looking at an ad is far more relevant and predictive of performance than recent KPI obsessions such as viewability or IVT/fraud metrics. Attention as a metric also has the significant advantage of not requiring cookies or AdIDs, meaning it is better positioned to sustain in a new era of ID loss as compared to KPI such as attribution, in-store sales, or brand lift. The rise of Attention is undoubtedly a step forward for marketers.

That said, Attention has three glaring weaknesses that don’t get nearly the focus they deserve. First, Attention tends to get confused as an end goal unto itself. But that’s mistaken. What’s the point of getting a consumer’s attention if that consumer doesn’t remember what they saw, or if the ad didn’t impact that consumer’s opinions or behavior in some way? We have to keep in mind Attention is a means to an end, and far from a perfect proxy. Perhaps better than viewability, but that’s not saying much.

Second, the vast majority of Attention measurement in the ad world is of the ad slot, not the creative. This distinction isn’t always clear, but the CEO of Adelaide, Marc Guldimann, has characterized it as “attention as an input” (the ad slot) versus “attention as an outcome” (creative). The Adelaide tool, for instance, only measures the ad slot, and they leave creative testing to others. That on its own is not necessarily a weakness. But the confusion stemming from many (most?) marketers not being clear about that, and the fact that creative attention is often completely overlooked, is a major issue.

Third, much of what is published by prominent voices in the Attention space such as Adelaide, Lumen, and Dentsu are not ad effectiveness measurement at all, but rather algorithms to predict the attention a given ad slot will get in the future. One has to read carefully to grasp this, as it’s often buried in the details. But Attention is becoming a planning or buying tool. The fact that the word Attention is often followed by “metrics” or “measurement” is confusing and misleading. Typically, a campaign is not actually being measured in terms of how much attention that campaign received.

Persuasion Art has developed a proprietary new Attention methodology that solves these 3 issues. We call it Creative Attention Effectiveness. We use eye-tracking in a controlled triple-opt-in environment simultaneous to, and representative of, a live campaign to measure:
– How specific creatives, and creative formats, perform in comparison to one another
– How specific combinations of creatives and ad slots perform together
– The extent to which a given campaign’s Attention measurement predicts traditional brand metrics, such as brand recall and message association

So far, early benchmarks suggest that while attention is indeed predictive of brand lift overall, it varies dramatically by campaign, media property, and ad format. It’s a reminder that algorithms are directionally helpful, but actual campaign-level measurement is necessary to optimize efficiently.

Benchmarks also show creative format has a larger impact on metrics than does the ad slot. That’s a strong signal that marketers can’t settle for a version of Attention that focuses only on the ad slot, and ignore the impact of creative. We should be focusing on how the combination of creative and ad slot works in the context of our individual campaigns. Fortunately now we can for the first time, with Creative Attention Effectiveness.

For more information on this new emerging methodology, please reach out to or schedule a 30-minute introductory call here.