The war of attention: how to have the upper hand

Robert Perry.

Robert Perry, Regional Manager at Taboola

These days, it seems like everyone pays attention to, well… attention. While not a silver bullet, attention provides a useful data point that marketers can use to measure business impact. However, not all attention is equal.

Yes, it’s great to attract audiences with buzz-worthy and eye-catching content. But attention is not the ultimate measure of success. Just look at the media frenzy around Olivia Wilde’s new movie, “Don’t Worry Darling.” The film is shrouded in controversy – and, therefore, attention – but is still panned by critics for its lackluster content.

Likewise, marketers need to be careful not to rely too heavily on attention and opinions. As the IAB’s September 2022 report on the advertising attention measurement landscape shows, while advertising attention is certainly important in determining business outcomes, it’s not the only metric that matters when it comes to advertising. advertising effectiveness.

For a brand to really stand out and make an impact, it needs to capture the right kind of attention. That’s why many marketers are now going beyond just counting views and instead focusing on whether or not customers are actually digesting and reacting positively to their advertising message.

The question now is: how do you generate and measure the right kind of attention at scale to create more effective and engaging campaigns?

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Attention Isn’t Always What It Seems

Like visibility, any definition of “attention” can be manipulated by different industry players. And marketers can get caught up in the hunt for attention without really understanding what that means.

As a result, publishers were tricked into wrapping real estate above the fold with ads to ensure people would see those ads, even if they weren’t scrolling. But in the end, they ended up unwittingly harassing audiences with intrusive ad formats such as pop-ups, rollovers, magic carpets, and auto-playing videos with sound to meet advertisers’ demand for levels high attention.

This created a race to the bottom that frustrated consumers with heavy ad loads and intrusive experiences, all at the expense of the all-powerful metric.

And unsurprisingly, that didn’t bode well for the advertiser. If a reader is annoyed by a pop-up ad, the reader is annoyed by the brand AND the website that served the annoying pop-up. So, although readers see your brand and remember you, they may not have high brand sentiment.

So where does that leave marketers?

How to Get Authentic Attention on Trusted Channels

Luckily, there’s a proven solution to authentically grabbing attention: reaching users when they’re open and receptive to consuming something new, also known as the “moment of next.” This means serving the right ads when users are in the right mindset, especially when they’ve finished consuming content in a trusted environment, like a premium news site, online magazine, blog , app, mobile device software or other reliable source of information. .

A Nielsen study found that ads viewed in non-disruptive environments, such as below an article or in a News Feed, resulted in 25% higher attention than those placed in a disruptive environment such as a pre-roll. In the study, 60 participants watched the same video ads on Taboola, Facebook and YouTube, all on a mobile device. Eye movements, a measure of participants’ attention, were recorded. People had the least reactive eye movements when watching YouTube pre-roll ads. It got better on Facebook, and even better with Taboola. As you can imagine, we at Taboola were very excited about this. Video ads in our feed elicited a 23% higher emotional response than YouTube and a 13% higher emotional response than Facebook. Thus, advertisements positioned lower on a page – and even at the end of an article – are likely to attract more attention than those displayed elsewhere. Nielsen’s eye-tracking study showed that participants rarely watched the video ad being played when it was in an intrusive environment, for example, Youtube’s pre-roll.

In psychology, low attention on Youtube is called “cognitive ad avoidance” and refers to consumers’ inattentiveness, or their tendency to ignore served ads when they are not interested in watching them. They can still stay because they don’t want to completely leave the experience (in this case, because they want to watch another video afterwards). According to a recent study, sometimes intrusive experiences are even challenged by “advertising reactance” where advertising actually has the opposite effect and creates a negative reaction towards the brand.

To drive home this point, marketers need to reach audiences where they already are, and not just on social and search platforms. As Statista reported in its 2021 Digital Advertising Australia Report: 23% of new brand discoveries were through advertisements on websites.

And by running campaigns on news sites, marketers can rest assured that their ads are hosted in a trusted environment and delivered to audiences in the right context. In fact, a 2020 IAB study found that 84% of consumers believe that advertising in the news increases or maintains brand trust.

Clearly, advertisers have a huge opportunity to reach consumers with messages on publisher sites on the open web. Adding these channels to your media mix will not only maximize total attention, but also brand awareness, brand favor, and ultimately consideration.

A recent study by Kantar found that adding native open web video ads to your media mix increased brand awareness by 26%. These ads also had a greater impact on brand preference, consideration, and image compared to social and streaming video ads alone. The uniqueness of the native format effectively captures consumers’ attention, which positively impacts brand effectiveness.

How Kia Motors improved its brand image with native video ads

Kia Motors wanted to increase brand awareness with a video campaign focusing on sustainability and carbon neutrality. But the automaker was frustrated with how search and social platforms limited how long videos played when exposed to viewers. Kia therefore worked with Taboola to launch native video ads on premium news sites in the United States and Korea.

As a result, Kia saw a 171% increase in unaided awareness, a 77% increase in online ad awareness and a 26% increase in brand affinity in the United States. On top of that, Kia also increased video completion rates by 30% in Korea. Although the Kia study didn’t specifically measure attention, increasing video completion rates are a good indicator.

Pay attention to how you attract attention

When planning your next campaign, remember that not all attention is good attention. So don’t just run ads in walled gardens or on publisher sites with disruptive experiences, and hope for results.

Instead, it’s important to diversify your ad mix to reach customers on trusted publisher sites where they’re already active and ready to engage with new content. This way, you can improve awareness, brand recall, and customer experience at scale.