Audi, Mars, Nespresso Embrace Ad Effectiveness With New Attention Metrics

Eye-tracking solution Adelaide launches attention marketplace after nine months of tests

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The trend of programmatically buying media based on attention is gaining momentum.

Increasingly, marketers have acknowledged that making sure people pay attention to their ads is a priority.

Starting today, many of the largest ad-tech firms, including Google Display & Video 360, Xandr, Magnite, PubMatic and Teads, are offering ad buyers access to Adelaide, an attention metrics ad-tech firm, via private marketplaces.

Major brands like Mars and Nespresso will use the service, as well as agencies like Xaxis, Interpublic Group, Omnicom Media Group, Havas and Tinuiti. The tool is launching in 20 global markets where the solution has been tested but hasn’t been widely available.

For years, programmatic advertising has promised to use the power of data and technology to make media buying more efficient. But that premise has been more about matching ads to consumers, and less about ensuring advertisers are bidding for inventory that people will actually see.

Adelaide works by using eye-tracking data from vendors and running their own studies to train an algorithm on the probability of someone looking at an ad and then assigning the inventory a score, between 0 and 100, based on this assessment.

The company’s founder and CEO Marc Guldimann said the kind of media that scores highly with Adelaide’s metric, dubbed Attention Unit (AU), is the kind that advertisers already prefer.

“It’s like the ads that you run into in premium publishers. It’s a lot of common sense boiled into a metric,” Guldimann said. “It’s big ads on uncluttered pages that don’t have a lot of other advertising.”

With the Adelaide marketplaces, marketers will bid in an environment that already scores high for AU, with publishers and placements that have been vetted as likely to drive attention. Buyers will still buy media via impressions and CPMs, though there is some hope that attention will eventually be its own currency.

The launch of attention marketplaces is the culmination of nine months of testing how marketers could activate on attention data in the bidstream, moving beyond Adelaide’s roots as an after-campaign analytics company. Execs from Audi, Mars and IPG-owned Mediahub told Adweek that using Adelaide made their media spend more likely to drive conversions and sales.

Beyond viewability

Despite the recent momentum around attention-based metrics, advertisers relied on viewability, defined by the IAB as a minimum of 50% of pixels in view for a minimum of one second. Another available measure of attention in the current ecosystem is video completion rates.

Programmatic has thrived on a bit of ambiguity.

Ron Amram, senior director of global media, Mars

But these standards don’t prevent, and in some ways encourage, ad formats users find pesky, like the shrinking video window that follows users down a web page, Gudimann said.

“The existing metrics create a disincentive for quality but create incentives for tonnage,” he said.

Despite peoples’ frustrations with crowded webpages and floating ads, ad-tech firms have had little incentive to change, given that they make money on more transactions, not more quality ones, Ron Amram, senior director of global media at Mars told Adweek.

By using a poor proxy for actual attention, advertisers don’t always know just how ineffective their ads are, Amran added. “Programmatic has thrived on a bit of ambiguity,” he said.

But these dynamics are changing as the industry embraces supply path optimization (SPO) and the climate of innovation spurred by cookie deprecation. A marketer using Adelaide, or another attention metric, would still need an identifier to buy their media, but in an era with fewer data points, attention is one more signal buyers can count on, said Peter Barry, vice president of addressability at PubMatic.

Higher attention, better results

Several studies have shown that Adelaide can lead to better outcomes.

For example, Audi Switzerland worked with agency WPP-owned Xaxis and demand-side platform Xandr to build a custom algorithm incorporating Adelaide into a campaign. Filip Pujic, team leader of digital marketing at Audi, told Adweek the algorithm with Adelaide drove 60% higher conversions, defined as post-click action on a landing page, compared to bidding on open exchange and PMP deals with standard bidding tactics.

At Mediahub, Adelaide drove higher performance metrics for KPIs throughout the funnel, and the agency incorporates Adelaide data into a bespoke offering of high-quality, high-attention inventory for its clients, said Edward McElvain, evp, director of Mediahub’s P3 (people, platforms, precision) division.

Adelaide charges an extra fee on top of each transaction, which may be too expensive for some scrappier, performance-driven advertisers, McElvain said.

But he added that higher costs may be a necessary trade-off for a higher-quality media landscape.

“The vision of an advertising ecosystem that is optimized toward attention means that there are fewer, more effective impressions,” McElvain said. “There are a lot of advertisers that are buying impressions that probably have no impact.”

This article has been updated to reflect that Adelaide has launched its attention marketplace after nine months of tests.

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