How Marketers Use Attention Measurement in CTV Strategies

Attention data can help benchmark performance

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As the worlds of digital trading and connected TV converge, some buyers and adtech firms are using attention metrics, already being adopted by digital publishers, to justify CTV pricing and judge ongoing campaign performance.

As the recent NewFronts showed, there’s an appetite for this newer measurement. Using attention metrics in CTV is still nascent, and wider adoption could be stymied by common setbacks like standardization and fragmentation.

Vendors such as TVision combine eye-tracking data with panel information to gauge viewers’ attention across CTV. Attention can vary depending on the app-level engagement, time of day, program content, pod position and clutter, pod number and co-viewing scenarios, according to TVision, which began measuring CTV in 2019.

When evaluating CTV and linear buys, marketers consider whether viewers stay in the room when ads air or what creative concepts drive the most attention. Applying attention measurements to CTV can help marketers pinpoint what works.

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“You can actually understand, as a buyer, the programs and programming that have a higher level of attention [defined as eyes on screen] when your ad is playing, versus a lower level of attention,” said Paolo Provinciali, vp, marketing growth, performance and operations at LinkedIn.

Attention data can help justify streaming CPM costs, said Kevin Krim, president and CEO of TV measurement firm EDO. Streaming CPMs can range from $13 to $65, Business Insider reported. That’s roughly double the average price of digital advertising and linear TV alternatives, Krim said, although CPMs vary greatly depending on criteria like content, seasonality and targeting.

Attention data also offers advertisers a performance benchmark to hit.

For instance, attention vendor Adelaide, which began measuring CTV in 2021, partners with TVision to offer advertisers an attention-optimized CTV attention unit (AU) benchmark. The baseline can vary depending on the advertiser and its goals but, in general, for CTV the average hovers at 63 on a 0 to 100 scale that measures how probable it is that a viewer pays attention.

This makes it possible to assess an in-flight CTV campaign’s performance relative to industry averages, so buyers can adjust creative content while it’s still in-market.

Offering buyers a threshold

TVision uses eye-tracking data on 14,000 consenting people to determine average video attention rates. By matching this eye-tracking data with behavioral data, it can extrapolate conclusions about how consumers react to different creative concepts, so buyers can purchase inventory that’s more likely to capture viewer attention.

ShowHeroes Group, which provides video technology solutions to advertisers, has been running its first attention-informed campaigns in partnership with TVision. These campaigns let buyers see average attention scores across inventory types.

“[It’s] in line with the way we now work with viewability, where every single brief says you have to hit a minimum of 70% viewability as a threshold,” said Steven Filler, who oversees U.K. operations for ShowHeroes. “It’s not a guarantee, but it’s more [that a] campaign will optimize toward exceeding that goal.”

Guarantees are different in CTV

Some web publishers like The Weather Company have established digital attention guarantees for digital and online video campaigns, but that’s less common in the CTV space, said Sarah Lewis, ShowHeroes’ global CTV director.

“Guaranteeing [is] very difficult in CTV because, ultimately, you can never guarantee anything,” she said. “Unless we have literal cameras in every household.”

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Just like in linear advertising, there’s no way to truly find out if a viewer leaves the room while the commercial airs, added John Rogers, vp of business development at adtech firm Nexxen. However, Telly announced in its NewFronts presentation that its system can now read whether viewers are watching or not.

Instead, ShowHeroes uses TVision’s attention data to buy CTV placements that are more likely to hold viewers’ attention and to reassure buyers of inventory quality and performance standards.

Some adtech firms such as TripleLift currently sell attention-guaranteed CTV inventory, but it’s not necessarily guaranteeing eyeballs. The vendor works with Adelaide to guarantee its inventory meets a specific quality threshold.

Adapting TV campaigns on the fly

CTV buys encourage marketers to iterate, said Provinciali. The planning flexibility, not reliant on an upfront buy, lets buyers activate different creative concepts in shorter timeframes, and learn what messaging resonates with viewers.

According to Provinciali, if a marketer running a 12-week campaign were to discover that their creative is underperforming on attention by the two-week mark, they could theoretically replace the creative in enough time to meet campaign goals.

Although TV will most likely never be measurable in the same way as digital media, attention metrics in the channel give marketers more data to consider.

“It’s more of an in-flight optimization, in my mind, than a pre-flight optimization,” Provinciali said.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that TVision’s eye-tracking data was compiled from 15,000 participants; however, that number is 14,000.

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