Advertising in the age of distraction

Monday, 24 October 2022

In the age of distraction, attention to advertising is getting harder to achieve.

Many (myself included) have pointed to media and social platforms as an accelerant of this trend. While this has fundamentally changed the ways in which we receive and process information plus the velocity in how we consume it, we can’t assume that consumption patterns are identical across platforms. 

Our partners at OMD (@OMD_Worldwide) have done multiple studies looking at attention and its impact on digital advertising in today’s world. For example, last year, OMD embarked on a study with leaders in attention measurement, Amplified Intelligence, to understand whether attention can be directly linked to Mental Availability (MA), defined as the likelihood of a particular brand coming to mind versus competitors when a consumer is looking to purchase something.

The takeaways are compelling. Here are five highlights:

  1. Increases in attention give a brand the ability to grow market share, while decreases in attention contribute to brand decline.
  2. Low attention platforms do not contribute to MA in the same way as high attention platforms.
  3. When attention is in short supply, distinctive branding becomes even more important.
  4. It takes three seconds to build MA. Anything less is a nudge.
  5. Every channel, platform and format have a natural ceiling of attention.

OMD Canada’s CEO Cathy Collier says these findings need to be factored into any investment in advertising going forward. She states,  “Measures like STAS (Short-term Advertising Strength) and its correlation to Attention Seconds become increasingly important as we measure attention and harness those metrics, which we now use in client planning. The Attention Requirement Calculator (ARC) was built with Omnicom’s data strategy arm, Annalect. The tool automates attention-informed planning to make clients’ media spend more efficient and effective.”

We know that gaining attention is the first step in brand growth but with regards to attention, are all social media created equal? 

To build on previous studies and deepen our understanding of how attention works, Twitter and OMD worked again with Amplified Intelligence to measure attention across four top social media platforms. For each platform, we also looked at the impact attention has on both short- and long-term brand KPIs.

Environment, content and context aid the receptivity of brand messaging and dynamic of active versus passion attention. Our study found that people tend to scroll slowly through their Twitter feeds, compared to other platforms, which highlights that dynamic.

The research results also validated that attention has direct correlation to lifts in immediate purchase (STAS) and long-term preference (mental availability). Noticeability drives attention, which increases recall and mental availability and Twitter’s audience-led feed provides an ideal environment for attentiveness opportunity.

We once only used viewability as an indicator of media quality but now we know better. The value of an "opportunity to see" must be lower where dedicated attention is scarce. In lieu, attention becomes the key metric that connects effective strategy to business outcomes. What's most important moving forward is how marketers apply these learnings to best plan, create, invest, and measure their approaches to media.

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