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Marketing Industry Insights United States

Comparing value of audience versus context using attention and brand metrics

By Dr. Erik Nylen | Head of data science


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July 24, 2018 | 4 min read

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Question: What do baby boomers, elders (80+), gen-xers, millennials, and current students all have in common?


Comparing value of audience versus context using attention and brand metrics

Answer: They are all descriptions of me, according to one large data provider. While I wish I were generationally transcendent, hopping through the years like Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five , I am sorry to report that just one of these descriptions belong next to my name.

When you build a business based on attention and efficient brand lift, instead of on-target reach and frequency, the impact of inaccurate data can be felt on a balance sheet. But could bogus audience data really be costing us money or hurting our performance? To answer this we set out to evaluate the impact per dollar spent on targeting, comparing the cost per outcome of audience targeting versus the cost of contextual targeting on a campaign for a large consumer technology company.

Let’s Break It Down

First we compared the amount of attention paid to the ads based on targeting tactic. Parsec uses politely interruptive full screen ads that capture attention for an amount of time controlled by the consumer. In the case of audience targeting, individuals spent an average of 3.84 seconds with the ads. For contextual targeting, individuals spent an average of 4.30 seconds with the ads. Thus in terms of which tool generates more attention, contextual targeting bests audience targeting by 12%.

Next we looked at the cost of each targeting option. On a CPM basis, audience targeting costs $1.35, compared to the contextual targeting cost of $0.29. This puts audience targeting as 4.7x more expensive than contextual targeting. In addition to these data costs, the media costs of the audience targeting were 6.3% greater than the contextual buy. So if we are paying more for audiences and generating less attention, then is it possible that those audiences are somehow more influenced by the ads, and thus the increased cost is justified by an increase in brand lift?

To answer this, we used single question surveys to measure the impact per second of ad exposures. For individual targeted via audience data, we measured a 2.1% lift per second of attention. This means that each incremental second spent with the ad leads to a 2.1% increase in brand lift. For individuals targeted via context, we measured a 3.0% lift per second of attention. The contextual buy was 43% more efficient at creating brand impact per second of attention, even without taking into account costs of media or data.

Not only did contextual targeting yield increased attention at lower media costs, it also lead to greater brand impact from each second of attention.

attribution table

Contextual is more efficient

Putting all the numbers together, we can calculate the relative impact per dollar spent on targeting. Given that contextual targeting is 4.7x less expensive, earns 12% more attention, and yields significantly greater brand lift per second, we calculated that the relative impact per dollar spent on contextual data is 7.5X greater than the impact per dollar spent on audience data.

Our research, and many others in the industry, proved the link between attention and brand impact. Parsec leverages this research with proprietary real-time attention and brand lift data to optimize campaigns towards more efficient environments for branding.

Marketing Industry Insights United States

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