The Art of in-Feed Optimisation as Part of the Attention Revolution

colorful graphic of human profiles

OMD Worldwide’s Managing Director of Product, Jean-Paul Edwards hails the importance of ‘Attention’ campaign optimisation and planning in advance of new in-feed insights from Twitter.

By Jean-Paul Edwards, Managing Director of Product, OMD Worldwide

During Advertising Week Europe, OMD and Twitter will reveal the findings of extensive research into ‘Attention’ which have been tested in a controlled experiment with leaders in attention research, Amplified Intelligence. The tests ran across 16 test adverts covering five categories, across four different social media platforms in the UK, France, Canada and Mexico.

The much-anticipated results will have been generated by almost 20,500 ad views and will lift the lid on in-feed attention behaviours such as the relationship between ad length and active attention seconds, the interplay between active and passion attention, plus how scrolling effects our memory response and mental availability.

The gravitas of these impending insights stems from ‘Attention’s’ meteoric rise up the hierarchy of media planning and buying strategy.

Attention is increasingly understood as key to understanding ad effectiveness, especially against the triple-threat backdrop of cookie depreciation and consumer desire for privacy, the over-supply of content, plus the demands of digital transformation.

In fact, we believe it’s not an over-statement to say that ‘Attention’ is one of the most important assets of the 21st century. We give it, we pay it, we hold it and we ignite it. It’s finite, it’s incredibly valuable to us as brands and platforms, plus it’s important to apply empathy and understanding to how consumers choose to assign it (either consciously or sub-consciously).

The revolution in ‘Attention’ campaign optimisation and planning is an ongoing but necessary evolution away from reliance in ‘Viewability’ alone.

The notion that an advert will be seen is indeed a construct of human attention but ‘Attention’ accounts for how and why a viewer responds to that ad. In other words, ‘Viewability’ is not enough – you can’t ‘game’ the system.

We need to track attention and remember that not all ‘Attention’ is the same. An ad can be viewable, with no attention paid while some ad placements with low ‘Viewability’ can score highly on certain ‘Attention’ metrics.

According to research aggregated from more than 50 case studies by The Attention Council (during a project looking at the link between attention and outcomes throughout the marketing funnel), ‘Attention’ outperformed ‘Viewability’ across upper funnel KPIs on desktop and mobile for a majority of media and technology brands and drove increased conversion rates for broadcast advertisers.

Looking at upper funnel metrics, individuals exposed to attention-optimised media tracked increased familiarity levels and unique reach. Attention optimisations also proved up to 31% more cost-efficient.

One of the technology brands in The Attention Council’s study wanted to compare ‘Attention’ and ‘Viewability’ as optimisation techniques to drive brand lift.

In an A/B test, the Attention-optimised group tracked 6% higher familiarity levels and 20% higher unique reach which led to 12.8% higher average attention, proving 31% more cost-efficient than the group exposed to Viewability-optimised media.

Moreover, work carried out by Amplified Intelligence, headed up by Professor Karen Nelson-Field shows that optimising on ‘Attention’ has a 6X greater likelihood of brand choice than optimising on ‘Viewability’.

“Put another way, the relationship between ‘Viewability’ and brand choice is no better than chance, the relationship between active attention and brand choice is significant,” Nelson-Field says. “Attention is the evolution of impression measurement. Viewability may serve to count the opportunity but attention measurement is linked directly to the business outcome.”

Over the last six years, OMD has developed a body of evidence to illustrate the business value of ‘Attention’ measurement and optimisation, so we were delighted to be recognised by Professor Nelson-Field as an ‘early adopter’ and to subsequently partner with Amplified Intelligence to establish an empirical link between ‘Attention’ and mental availability.

Mental availability as a metric is the likelihood of a brand coming to mind when a purchase occasion arises. It is therefore a key driver of sales and future market-share growth.

To scale the utilisation of our ‘Attention’ insights, we’ve been working to incorporate these and other attention metrics into our planning tools.

Clients are demanding them, due to the onset of what The Economist is calling, an ‘attention recession’, as brands fight for less available attention from more discerning consumers. So it’s vital that we continue to dig deeper into the different nuances of mental availability and how ‘Attention’ works across different media channels.

It’s vital because it also moves us away from a maniacal focus on ROI plus CPMs and returns our focus back onto the consumer.

The forthcoming Twitter research findings analyse in-feed ad attention behaviours across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and of course Twitter.  Insights show that there’s similarity across these platforms when it comes to short bursts of attention being the norm and driving outcomes but there are nuances too. You can’t think of all social in the same way, because the way people use these platforms can vary, so designing for the environment in question and thinking about placement is key.

With feed scrolling the new browsing, how we capture, benchmark and improve on ‘Attention’ optimisation as integral to the planning approach will have major ramifications for proven and consistent client value.

We hope you’ll join OMD and Twitter with Professor Karen Nelson-Field as we discuss the findings at Advertising Week Europe: Creative Capital on 18 May.