Relevance, emotion, purpose: the golden rules for keeping consumer attention in 2020

As a new decade starts, Xandr, AT&T’s advertising company, in partnership with The Drum, took to the streets to ask British consumers about the current state of digital advertising, and how they hope it evolves in the years ahead.

According to Daniel Clayman, VP and Managing Director of Northern Europe at Xandr, consumers are now “content rich but time poor.” Driven by the rise in smart phones and Over-the-Top or “OTT” services, consumers are watching more digital content than ever, across multiple screens. This fragmentation of viewing habits brings a new challenge for marketers: finding and keeping consumer attention.

To meet this hurdle, new kinds of advertising companies are emerging. Sophisticated technology is enabling a more intelligent form of advertising which brings together publisher’s premium content across all channels and formats, combined with consumer insights, to deliver more relevant experiences for consumers.

But ad fatigue persists, and consumers are demanding higher quality experiences online. As a result, Xandr is thinking about how we move the industry forward in 2020, building upon the progress and innovation of the past decade.

Posing the question ‘what can companies do to improve advertising in 2020?’ one woman in her twenties highlighted the importance of corporate social responsibility, explaining how today, that too plays into consumer considerations: “Digital advertising can be improved by having more inclusivity. Brands need to pay attention to the social climate and make sure they’re truly representative of the time.”

Another consumer added the industry must become a lot less intrusive in the 2020s, as many consumers are getting fed up of “feeling followed” when they’re on the internet. “Well, I definitely think advertising is a bit more shallow nowadays,” he said.

“I don’t think they are very honest either, and it puts me off. I find advertising particularly intrusive on social media. I look at [one furniture website] and then I am showered with sofa ads. I don’t like it at all. It is too intrusive and that needs to change [to win people like me back].”

Meanwhile, another man in his thirties advised marketers to make more contextually relevant ads for consumers. “I would be more interested if the ad was actually relevant to me,” he explained. “Advertising should reflect a person’s specific interests.”

Although the general feedback from consumers was mixed, there are plenty of lessons for marketers to learn from, according to Clayman.

“Our video interviews show that consumers’ general perceptions of advertising are wide and varied,” he said. “They understand the importance of advertising and react positively if an ad is relevant, but if it’s intrusive and invades their space, then they are put off. It needs to spark an emotion and be relevant to them for the time and place of life that they are in.”

Clayman believes marketers need to remember the basics in 2020, when it comes to their approach in analysing content consumption and customer behavior. He concludes that “those two things can’t be treated differently and in silos, understanding what the consumer wants and how they want it is going to be key as the worlds of TV and digital converge. That’s what will be important.”

You can watch the full video above.

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