Brand Marketers: ‘May I Have Your Attention?’

Technology-based marketing attention concept using an eye

By Anthony Flaccavento, General Manager Americas, Ogury

Remember when the digital ad industry was obsessed with erasing fraud. While that fight has been waged and substantial progress made, there is another battle for brand marketers to fight in their perennial efforts to maximize ROI. They should now prioritize the optimizing of consumer attention in CTV/OTT and other online videos as the next frontier. The emphasis on fighting bots and other perpetrators of digital ad fraud is an ongoing noble endeavor, but there is other major damage being done right under brands’ noses—according to industry sources, roughly $10B is wasted each year on video ads that are only partially in-view. This means your message is all too often not being received, let alone absorbed by the viewers with whom you want to engage. This must stop now!

How Did We Get To This Pinnacle Of Waste?

By relying on tired ad formats that have little respect for the browsing experience and measuring campaign results with outdated metrics. Brands can no longer accept having their growing, sizable investments in digital video ads generate such mediocre accountability. It should no longer be ok to have no idea whether your ad is even played on-screen, let alone grabbing strong attention.

With CTV/OTT emerging as a key driver of digital advertising growth during the pandemic, the stakes couldn’t be higher for marketers. U.S. digital video ad spending is predicted to surpass Linear TV ad spending by 2023, with mobile expected to account for 65% of digital video ad spend by the end of next year in the country.

In order for brands to become more confident about where their money is going, they must first revamp the antiquated measurement paradigm.

The primary brand KPI to measure video ad performance has been the Video Completion Rate (VCR). But in this increasingly mobile-centric world, users all too often trigger ads easily but blow right down the page, as video messages play partially at best, or entirely off-screen, at worst. This dynamic renders VCR antiquated and, all too often, irrelevant. Brands really have no business accepting this metrics status quo that they would never countenance for any of their other channel investments. Why should a brand pay a penny more for an unviewable mobile ad when they certainly wouldn’t get out their wallets for a billboard ad hidden behind a large tree.

VCR is not any more satisfactory than the early Viewability standard that digital advertising adopted. It has been widely acknowledged that current viewability standards do not guarantee that an ad is actually viewed, let alone generates attention. The writing is on the wall–viewability will become obsolete and only attention will remain as the central key outcome brands require.

A New Standard For Keeping Score

Instead, what about using the “fully on-screen rate for 50% duration” metric to measure the percentage of impressions where 100% of pixels are in-view for at least half of the video duration?  By orders of magnitude, this standard captures viewer attention and engagement in a more accurate way than VCR ever could.

Conveniently, this metric is already widely available via leading measurement third-parties like DoubleVerify, IAS, and Oracle MOAT. This allows for scalable, integrated measurement and is the only way for advertisers to effectively measure video ad campaign performance in a meaningful and consistent way, regardless of partners or ad networks. We all need to band together to make this the industry standard. In its benchmark of the last quarter of 2021, Oracle MOAT reported that, on average, less than half of mobile outstream video formats met this measurement standard. If we apply this to U.S. outstream video ad spend in 2021, this means over $10B out of $17.3B were wasted due to ads being only partially on-screen.

Formats To Grab Viewer Attention

The good news is that fully on-screen ad formats, where 100% of the pixels are in view for the entire ad duration, are coming to the fore. These formats are non-intrusive, allowing users the option to close an ad easily—which has previously not been the case. They are relevant and engaging, and have been proven to deliver greater impact than the previous generation of mobile ad formats.

A recent study, using eye-tracking technology, shows that fully on-screen ad formats outperform typical mobile outstream formats by 2.5x and mobile display formats by 5x. These same formats also generate 36% more brand recall than any other mobile outstream and display activations.

Yes, now is a critical pivot point for brands to rethink their CTV/OTT investments and evaluative methods. They can neither compromise on employing the best fully on-screen ad formats capable of generating attention, nor on transitioning to a new measurement framework that accurately reflects the impact of their ads.