By Lindsay Williams
Whether it is newspapers using the number of subscribers to represent reach or television networks transacting gross evaluation points (GRP), the measure of success has always been the number of potential gazes that ‘a creative can achieve. In mainstream media, this was the only metric available to measure attention, so it’s hardly surprising that the industry still focuses on the impressions served as opposed to the time spent engaging with that impression.
Digital promised to fundamentally transform the way advertisers reach consumers, and it is in many ways. Even though the industry has made great strides and solved major challenges in digital, it is still obsessed with lower level metrics as opposed to engagement. Digital advertisers are missing out on opportunities by focusing only on traditional metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and cost per action (CPA), and now need to amplify standard metrics with new data.
Time spent is an indicator of attention
View time is the average time that a visible impression remains in view according to the Media Ratings Council (MRC) standard. If advertisers really want to understand the attention, they need to understand the amount of time consumers spend looking at the ad. The media business is based on the promise of attention, which leads to engagement and consideration. You trade your audience’s attention for the advertiser’s marketing budget. The advertiser buys attention so that he can sell his products to your audience. The advertiser uses an ad as a tool or medium to convert attention into sale.
Viewing time is an important media currency for engagement
Recently, an eMarketer study reported that digital ad spend in Singapore will reach approximately US $ 639.2 million in 2022, which is 39.8% of total media ad spend. In total, digital media will account for 55.1% of ad spend in Asia-Pacific by 2022.
As digital ad spend increases, now more than ever, advertisers are being asked to prove its return on investment (ROI) and the added value it produces for their organizations. This need to demonstrate impact is driving a change in the way they seek to measure the quality of their digital investments.
Right now, the media is sold on whether it is, or its potential to be seen, rather than whether someone actually saw the ad or not. Marketers could leverage attention as a business unit when purchasing media, instead of relying on the desirability or potential of viewing an advertisement. Spending time in the foreground gives advertisers the ability to optimize their campaigns based on a dynamic metric rather than a binary condition. Ads are either visible or not visible, but time exists on a continuum. Optimal display time may vary by brand, creation, or platform, giving marketers a wider range of watch faces to use when optimizing campaigns for maximum impact.
Time-based metrics would open the door to a plethora of new specialist benchmarks customized by industry, platform, and even specific creative types.
Leverage contextual advertising technology in a privacy-compliant manner
The holiday season is a critical time for many retailers and brands. Consumers are turning heavily to online shopping, which makes digital advertising even more important. For advertisers planning their vacation campaigns, the key to connecting with audiences is to control their contextual adjacencies in a way that maximizes results. Not all contexts are created equal when it comes to driving marketing success. Brands can harness the dual power of contextual targeting and high-quality placements to drive greater brand engagement. It is also essential to recognize that placing advertisements next to poor quality content can have significant consequences, including a high risk of damaging the reputation of the brand. To ensure that online ads grab attention and get the right results, alignment with the right contexts must be a top priority.
As our industry braces for a cookie-free future and moves further and further away from audience targeting, advertisers have a significant opportunity to be intentional with contextual tools. Rather than focusing on data management and the privacy regulations that come with collecting audience data, many marketers will turn to advertising in contextually relevant environments and use it as a proxy. Ultimately, the shift to contextual advertising is also good news for the industry, as it aligns with the preferences of privacy-conscious consumers while meeting brand engagement goals.
-The author is SEA country manager at Integral Ad Science. The opinions expressed are personal.