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Broadcasting & Cable
Broadcasting & Cable
Dan Mouradian

Attention Metrics Are a Distraction — and They’re Broken for CTV, Too (B+C Guest Blog)

Audience measurement.

I see you, marketers. I do. “Attention metrics” are all over the place these days, and you are likely fielding a ton of questions about whether or not they matter to your brand. I’m also positive you are getting dozens of emails with links to articles about them. I see you. 

Dan Mouradian, VP of global client solutions, Innovid (Image credit: Innovid)

While conversations around attention metrics might grab your (ahem) attention, whether or not a consumer has “paid attention” to your ad does not define your campaign’s effectiveness. What’s more, in an environment that has seen significant investment such metrics shouldn’t be your main focus when measuring performance in connected TV (CTV)

The latest article I read about these metrics references a few of the ways attention is being measured and some of the sentiment around the data collection methodology, including biometric, emotional and cognitive data. If you put privacy concerns and general “ick” factors aside, these panels are small and unreliable, so devoting ad spend to them would be a gamble to say the least. 

The same article I linked to above talks about dwell, scroll speed, cursor locations and completion rates. For CTV, all of those data signals, except for completion rates, are completely irrelevant. Why? There’s no mouse, no trackwheel, no trackpad. 

In large part, viewability is only measurable in VPAID tags, which are not supported in CTV. Additionally, there is a lot of fragmentation in CTV, which leads to a scenario known as ghost boxing — or streaming over one HDMI input with autoplay enabled while the user is viewing video via a different HDMI input. So what’s a savvy marketer to do?

Make Your Ads Work for You, Not Just Your Target Audience: Interactive ads provide viewers with opportunities to engage. If viewers are engaging with their remotes in your creative, you can be assured they are paying attention. This engagement can be created as an opportunity for a consumer to learn more about a product/service, and convert. They also open up measurement opportunities for creatives. And, worth noting, these formats provide more accurate measurement and less controversial creepiness. 

As an example, some formats calculate a metric that is recorded as time earned. Other formats can calculate remote inputs, such as moving through a carousel overlay, giving you interaction data on the creative. 

Another potential solution would be derived metrics, or combining multiple measurable metrics such as volume, completion or percentage completion, along with ACR data, to “score” attention. 

No Mouse, No Click — Think About the Scan and Response: Scan rates and response rates to online outcomes are measurable in CTV, which is why you see a growing number of QR codes on your screen. Think about what a QR code requires viewers to do: pull up their camera app, scan it and click on the link. The action is not accidental, it’s intentional follow-through on the consumer’s part. It’s attention and engagement — and it has the potential to drive some serious success. Take Planters’ Super Bowl LVII commercial, for example, which featured a comedy roast of Mr. Peanut along with a QR code for viewers to scan to watch the full-length roast. The QR code drove a conversion rate of 70% — meaning 70% of viewers saw the QR code, scanned it, and took some form of action. Consumers have made it clear that the CTV experience is no longer a passive medium. Take action on the formats that will invite them to do the same.

Too VAST & Too Furious: Video Ad Serving Template 4.0 was released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in January 2016 (and updated regularly since then). This matters because VAST 4.0 natively supports the inclusion of viewability and verification partners. If marketers are viewing attention metrics as a proxy for viewability, then this feels like creating a problem after we already know the solution. In my view, part of the rise of attention can be attributed to the fact that viewability isn’t readily available for CTV and the industry is creating new metrics to replace existing ones. If marketers believe that viewable means seen, then the industry should be pushing for the wider adoption of VAST 4.0. 

Another point of view is that “attention” metrics are being promoted by those who want to highlight the poor attention scores of banner ads and other online advertising. This is forcing an apples-to-oranges comparison, given that CTV ads appear on the largest screen, at the highest resolution, over the full screen and with the highest frame rate of full-motion sight and sound — something a banner ad or other online ad could almost never accomplish natively. 

Attention metrics are most useful when comparing between mediums rather than within them, especially for CTV. An online banner ad that covers a small amount of on-screen real estate and can be scrolled past with no conscious observation by the viewer has an entirely different payload than a CTV ad that fills a larger screen for 30 seconds. Assuming that almost all CTV gets 3,000 attention points (30 seconds times 100% of the screen), it’s not overly valuable to track within CTV. Then, compare the impact of that impression with low-quality, likely invisible and fast-scrolling online banner ads that retail at a far lower CPM, and banner adds will never compete. 

Take a Data-Driven Approach: Combining exposure/impression data with ACR or HDMI viewership data or device-setting feeds (such as volume) will give you a larger panel to build greater confidence in the measurement of something “squishy” like attention. 

So, marketers, I get it. In a market focused on performance and outcomes within a favored-yet-fragmented ecosystem, times are certainly precarious. It’s easy to fall into the jargon-filled conversations surrounding attention as the answer to viewability. But thankfully, with the proper processes in place, there are a myriad of opportunities to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns — and they will actually drive more engagement and success overall.

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