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Thanks to Professor Byron Sharp, there’s a lot of attention and interesting discussion going on. A few weeks ago, Sharpe was taken to Sydney from the Ehrenberg Bath Institute tower. At the Mi3-LinkedIn B2B Next conference, he provided his usual evidence-based insight into marketing of all kinds.

Ehrenberg-Bass has a lot to say about advertising media. Sharpe was quick to remind the Sydney audience of two “golden rules” that the Institute advises its clients to follow. “First, you need to reach everyone in your category … and spread your budget across time and locations.”

Massive reach and always on. clear. But when I questioned attention, things got more interesting and lively.

“Our job is to get attention,” Sharp agreed. “I don’t want to be seen advertising. But then do I pay more? No.”

Sharpe cited an advertisement for a bus stop and that it takes two seconds to receive a message. “Just watch a bus shelter ad for 10 seconds? Should I? No, so don’t get carried away. That’s it. No you don’t.

Except the sharp is wrong. About the value of general attention. And about the need to engage with more viewers in order to hold their attention for longer periods of time. Evidence is accumulating to substantiate this point, from the likes of Lumen, Dentsu, and the invaluable Professor Karen Nelson Field. And it’s vital that marketers listen to this debate. Because it affects their behavior.

Zero viewability

One thing everyone, including Sharpe, agrees on is the value of viewability. Clearly, when Sharpe stands for reach, he means not only are ads present, but ads that engage (even at the most fleeting level) with their target audience in order to get their attention. formal term. This means that the consumer’s eye was on the ad for 100ms (more than his 1/10th of a second).

If you don’t stick with it, you haven’t really reached your target audience. That may sound like an obvious claim. If you told your dad that he just read a column in Marketing Week that claimed that advertising only works the first time you see it, he’ll agree and ask you questions (again) about the value of your profession. But for those who have been baffled and bewildered by the industry’s turmoil over the last decade, that’s not the obvious point. We live in a time when a variety of fascinating figures stand on a colorful stage and talk entirely about the possibilities of amazing new media.

Marketers spend billions of dollars on ads that consumers simply can’t access, but never see. Ads that appear further down the page. Or the one that plays hidden behind another ad. Or what we don’t see on digital billboards in the fleeting period we pass by.

And the point is that non-visibility is not an evenly distributed constraint. According to Lumen’s research (below), more than a third of his mobile web ads are not being shown to viewers.

Invisible advertising is like putting billboards underwater, as ex-Unilever CMO Keith Weed described it brilliantly. Complete waste of money. So complete that not even the industrial digital marketing complex can justify or obfuscate the point.

litson chart
Source: TVision, Lumen

But viewability isn’t the ultimate goal, it’s just the first step on the road to effectiveness. The next big step in the attention journey is moving from viewable ads to ads your target audience actually watches.

Until relatively recently, the media industry traded based on exposure rather than how many people actually saw an ad. Because while agencies may estimate how many people have walked past the billboard, watched TV, or seen an ad on their phone, they weren’t certain. How to calculate the rate of seeing it during this “opportunity”. This is where the research firm Lumen has mined a staggering amount of data over the past decade.

I remember the eye-tracking experiments of the 1980s. Each produced interesting data, but when it came to naturalism, subjects first had to put on a motorcycle helmet with a large camera attached, which forced the incredulity to come to a complete halt. . After that, I was told to forget about the helmet, relax and read the newspaper. Lumen’s big breakthrough was putting trackers in the media they were watching, rather than the market they were watching. This has opened up an ever-exciting trove of new insights into the media and the attention we are/are not paying to it.

Specifically, Lumen can measure retention (the percentage of consumers who actually see your ad). Combining viewability (whether an ad is likely to be shown) and view average (percentage of viewable ads that achieve stickiness) gives a clearer picture of what can be called “actual reach” I can figure it out. I love this data – it’s below.

litson chart
Source: TVision, Lumen

If you pay for an average 300×600 digital display ad on a mobile phone, its viewability isn’t too bad at 63%. But only 35% of the target audience actually sees the ad, even if it’s for a few milliseconds. In contrast, a large fixed billboard on the way home achieves 100% viewability (if not digital) and is seen by an average of 82% of viewers.

Both media may claim to “reach” a target audience of 1,000, but mobile ads are seen by 350 and billboards by 820. Everything gets more attention. Before we get into the digital media bashing, it should be noted that the price of large billboards is (most of the time) much higher than a few digital displays.

Beyond Fixed: Residence Time

It’s worth pointing out that there is a wide disparity between claimed reach and actual attention among various media outlets, but disputes the basic claim that attention is needed to have any effect. there is no one to chant Where Sharp got it wrong was that getting more attention came at the expense of maximum reach, the first golden rule of the Ehrenberg bus, especially when marketers think more attention is more valuable. It was his claim to be a “sucker” if done.

To understand the error, we need to ask two questions about the data. First, does dwell time vary greatly depending on the advertising medium? Second, does extended dwell time have a significant impact on advertising effectiveness?

litson chart
Source: TVision, Lumen

The answer to the first question is overwhelmingly yes. Average dwell time varies greatly by media option.

In the previous example, the mobile ad was seen by only 350 people, while the outdoor ad got the attention of 820 people. These 350 mobile phone users of his have an additional 1.2 seconds to see the ad on their mobile phone. His 820 pedestrians walking down the sidewalk look at the sign in an average of 1.9 seconds.

But do the differences matter? Would doubling or tripling the length of attention make a meaningful difference in the effectiveness of advertising? The answer is yes!

Media agency Dentsu is a leader in attention measurement, applying lessons learned to media planning and buying practices. For three years, the agency’s global team, led by Clive Record, worked with Lumen and several other research firms to assess the impact of attention on efficacy.

litson chart
Source: Dentsu, Lumen

Through multiple robust experiments with different brands in the UK, US and Australia, Dentsu demonstrates a clear and statistically significant association between dwell time and prompted recall. For example, a 2-second dwell time translates to 28% prompt recall, with consumers remembering both the ad and the brand behind the ad. But when he increases dwell time to 14 seconds, he nearly doubles the recall prompted. The longer the dwell time, the twice as effective the same ad.

It’s a similar story if you like. The consumer who saw the ad for only two seconds had her brand choices increased by only 5% compared to the control group who did not see the ad at all. However, the lift increases significantly if the audience stays on the same ad longer. A 14 second dwell time gives him a 9% increase in choice. Longer dwell times improve impact at the top and bottom of the funnel. Please note.

Importance of caution

Growing prominence in advertising is an important and evolving area. Clearly, some ads work with just the slightest amount of staring. However, extending that attention to include dwell time also has significant implications. So to dismiss attention research outright is a grave mistake.

One reason for this is that different media, and different formats within each media, have very different attentions. Advertisers often confuse reach with opportunity and spend their marketing budgets inefficiently. Marketers need to pay more attention to money management.

Placing advertisements is not the same as exposing consumers to advertisements. Reach is not real reach. Don’t miss the chance to see it. And, as Lumen founder Mike Follett likes to say, when buying CPM (cost per thousand), ask not only what C is, but what M actually consists of. That makes sense. The answers are often varied, unreliable, unclear, and problematic. Questions are often not asked.

But it’s also an important new area of ​​marketing because attention is not a binary variable, regardless of what Ehrenberg-Bass is trying to tell us. Reaching or not reaching your target customer is not the end. Making that assumption is oversimplifying at best and dogmatic at worst.

Getting more attention in the form of longer dwell time is not what suckers are for, quite the opposite. This can have a big impact on whether a brand stands out and whether a preference ultimately arises.

Marketer as bartender

I admire the Ehrenberg Bass Institute as much as I have learned from its thinkers, and am tired of their inability to acknowledge or accept theories that did not arise within their own four walls. increase.

Over the last decade, the Institute has not only advanced the way we think about marketing, but in some bold cases (prominence, targeting, rigor), it has revolutionized how great marketers do it. I take off my disciplinary caps to that team and to the great Byron, who is truly the best of us.

But sometimes he and they are surprisingly right, and like all marketers, they are often wrong. I say this not to criticize Professor Sharpe and his colleagues, but as a call to the broader supporters who ring out everything Ehrenberg Bass says as an unquestionably objective fact. .

This doesn’t mean that marketers should ignore Ehrenberg-Bass’ insights, but more generally they move away from this oversimplistic notion of a marketing law set in stone by a temple-top priest. is needed. Instead, think of yourself as a bartender. drink mixer. Look to his Ehrenberg-Bass for some cocktails, but keep it open to other thinkers (those in the attention sector, for example) for equally robust and appealing options. You can even blend them if you want. If you’ve ever spent time setting up a decent cocktail bar, you know that the secret to success as a bartender is mastering as many sauced drinks as possible, mixing and matching them according to the situation and client. There must be

Build your own knowledge of marketing from those in front of you, around you, and against you. And pay attention. This is a bigger topic than some believe.

Mark Ritson is the 2023 PPA Columnist of the Year and teaches Marketing Strategy in the Mini-MBA in Marketing. Ritson will take the stage at his October 6th Festival of Marketing to have the audience rate his marketing prowess on his 10-point test of his current approach. Learn more about.

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