22. June 2024

Attention Metrics: What They are and Why They Matter For Your Business

Attention Metrics

What are Attention Metrics?

Attention metrics analyze an individual’s attention to a given media content. To quantify the performance of any marketing campaign, marketers have always relied on metrics and KPIs. But as we now live in an era of data and media abundance, our attention has become a scarce resource. This is why marketing professionals have started paying more “attention” to attention metrics. Since technically, the more ads we get in touch with, the less tempted we are to pay attention to them. 

Contrary to what we believe, recent studies have shown that even passive attention drives sales up. It is in fact the zero attention that should worry us. This is where attention metrics come into play. Technology has allowed us to come up with measures, or in this sense metrics, to analyze a user’s attention. With almost full control over media consumption, it has become vital to carefully study the consumer’s attention.

Metrics and KPIs

Where do they differ?
So technically all KPIs are metrics. A metric on the other hand isn’t necessarily a KPI. So as the name suggests KPIs are measured towards a certain goal. They are usually multiple metrics that analyze the performance of a certain aspect of a business. They also measure the performance of ad campaigns. 

Why can’t we use these terms interchangeably?  
Unlike KPIs, metrics are just indicators of the overall soundness and health of a business. They aren’t necessarily linked to any specific goal or objective. This is where the main difference lies. KPIs, unlike metrics, are always paired with a goal for them to be called KPIs. 

How do we Measure Attention Metrics?

Eye Tracking
Analyzing an individual’s eye movement and gaze is key in the study of attention metrics. In fact, attention metrics are designed to allow you to carefully analyze:

  • where your audience is looking
  • what kind of attention they are giving to your ads
  • whether or not they are actually “engaged” with it

Marketers and Advertisers are starting to realize how misleading impressions were, when they compare them to eye-tracking data. Back in 2019, Dentsu Aegis together with the Center for Amplified Intelligence carried out a study on gaze types. According to the study, consumers grant ads a mixture of gaze types as listed below:

  • Eye on ad (Full gaze)
  • Eye on screen but off ad. (Peripheral gaze) 
  • Eye off screen 

According to Karen Nelson-Field from the Center for Amplified Intelligence full and peripheral gaze are key towards achieving more sales. The interesting thing in her findings was how close the effect of full and peripheral gaze was to sales.

In an age of media abundance, consumers are constantly shifting their attention between media formats. They are usually only granting partial or passive attention to any Ad they come across. Interestingly enough passive attention is the dominant type of attention throughout the different platforms.

Attention Mix vs platforms
Graph showing the different gaze types consumers grant to the different platform types.

Just a quick recap of what this point is all about: 

  • The majority of media channels generally receive only passive attention 
  • Passive attention has, however, actually been proven to affect sales positively

Facial Coding
Through machine learning, companies are developing new technologies enabling them to understand and keep track of facial cues and emotions. This is made possible through accessing the user’s camera and getting continuous (pre-approved) video snippets of his facial expressions. 

With this data, marketers can accurately determine whether or not their campaign positively or negatively affected the consumer’s emotions. The tricky part of this technology lies in evaluating the intensity of the emotion. There are other factors, such as cultural differences and personality traits, that can contribute to its intensity.  

Responsible Attention Metrics
To allow eye tracking or facial coding, prior user consent would be needed. Without prior consent, both technologies would be considered a breach of a user’s privacy. The industry had to come up with metrics that would still gauge the user’s attention without being intrusive.

This is where responsible attention metrics come into play. These metrics produce data that simulates human attention without having to observe the actual user.

Attention metrics and full gauze on tablet
Attention metrics and how they affect marketing efficiency

These metrics are then allowing marketers to improve their overall marketing efficiency while respecting the user’s privacy. They are in fact ensuring the marketing industry maintains the public’s trust and “attention”.

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What Falls Under The Umbrella of Responsible Attention Metrics?

Active Page Dwell Time
This is one of the main attention metrics. It basically measures the average active time for a content page. By active we mean that it was on the main display of the device. Also excluded are tabs that don’t appear on the main screen of the browser.

In View Time
Essentially, it indicates how long people spend on average viewing half of the ad pixels on the active screen. Calculation of this time is based on the first second after it appears in view. It is one of the most fundamental metrics in attention metrics.

%Video Played in View: 
This is a pretty solid attention metric for Video ads. It measures how much of a video was watched while in the active view. The metric is reporting video percentages, allowing marketing professionals to widely use the metric for comparison purposes.

Why Are Attention Metrics Important?

Digital Marketing Objectives & Attention Metrics
The main objective of any digital marketing campaign is to increase sales while keeping Customer acquisition costs at a minimum. By using attention metrics, marketers can determine the success of their campaigns better. Viewability is in this way misleading as it treats all views as equals. However, a view with zero attention, wouldn’t be positively affecting sales. It is in this sense a waste of marketing budget. Attention metrics can therefore increase marketing effectiveness.

Viewability vs Attention graph
Graph showing the positive impact of Attention vs viewability on ROI

Attention Metrics Trend
Big media agencies are trying to push for the technology including Adelaide, Dentsu Aegis, Realeyes and TVision. The software development linked to attention metrics is costly and the industry is yet to fully grasp the necessity of investing in that. The technology hasn’t acquired accreditation yet from the Media Rating Council. This hasn’t however held back the media agencies from testing it out and studying its effect on their campaigns.  

What Does This Mean for You?

It basically means that you shouldn’t take the commonly used metrics for granted. It is important to treat data on viewability with caution. Studies have proven that only a third of the considered viewed ads get full attention. It could also entail reaching out to media companies that are developing attention analytics tools. You could then decide whether using them would fit into your budget. Attention metrics can provide advertisers with a much clearer picture of how consumers are interacting with their content. The sooner you start using them, the more efficient your marketing campaigns would be.

What To Do Next?

Keep on following the changes in the business. As agencies invest more into technology, the way they evaluate ads’ performance is likely to change. 

Unsure of how to improve your eCommerce Strategy? Talk to us: moin@watersky.digital