By Charlotte McEleny | digital editor

Playground xyz


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April 6, 2022 | 6 min read

With attention metrics and technology starting to gather pace in the industry, the time is now for marketers to improve the ad experience for consumers. The Drum and Playground xyz gathered experts from across APAC and Europe to look at what the future of this new experience could be and what tools and technologies are in place to get us there.

As part of The Drum’s Customer Experience Deep Dive, The Drum gathered together industry experts to answer the question: can attention be the foundation to improving the online ad experience?

Taking part in the roundtable was:

playground xyz digital advertising attention

Capturing and keeping the attention of users is essential in a cookie-less world

  • Gayle While, chief digital officer, Dentsu ANZ

  • Jon Waite, global head of media experience activation, Havas Media Group London

  • William McMahon, head of advertising technology, Spark Foundry UK

  • Tom Mills, global head of media trading, GSK

  • Rob Hall, CEO Playground xyz

The group agreed that the industry was facing an opportunity to change for the better and that new technology and metrics rooted in attention were helping to shift the needle.

Dentsu’s While explains that the new aspect to the topic of attention is that there are now frameworks and tangibility to something previously seen as theoretical.

“Until most recently, it's been a lot of theory that the best attention-grabbing placements are going to be the ones you want and will pay a bit of a premium towards. We've never been really able to understand directly, which ones are actually grabbing the right attention, and to help plan and organize around that,” she explains, adding that the agency has been implementing this alongside Playground xyz.

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Ultimately, the move to attention metrics is an attempt to better understand the true context of whether an ad was delivered to the right person, at the right time, and with the right message or not - the advertiser’s holy grail.

A major bouncing-off point for this key industry moment has been the withdrawal from using cookies and the start of finding more privacy-safe tracking technologies instead. This is allowing the industry a chance to have a fresh perspective on the way it measures ad efficacy.

GSK’s Mills explains, “It's quite exciting for advertisers because it's making us think about how we can engage consumers in a privacy safe way which, in reality, is the way that we should be operating. It's made organizations look and understand what data we’ve got in-house, what we can use to engage consumers first-party data point of view, but equally start working with publishers, other brands, and technologies to understand what second-party data can we use to engage consumers.”

With new ways of measuring and understanding ad efficacy coming to the fore, it means brands can better use levers, such as context and creativity, to improve their ads… and ultimately the end experience for consumers.

Playground xyz’s Hall, explains, “All of this is channeling us towards this really cool future where we're serving the right ad into the right context, we're in the right context where people are in the right mindsets, and we're using attention signals to validate this. That's all happening now.”

But what is it going to take for attention to become the norm and be picked up as a mainstream currency?

The topic of standardization always arises when new metrics or technology comes into play and Havas’ Waite says that while some standardization is needed, waiting to put it through industry committees could be too slow for the fast-evolving ad industry.

“Ultimately, why I like attention is because it is simple. Did people see ads? Generally speaking, when people do see ads, they are better. It’s pretty simple, pretty straightforward, but there is this muddying the waters of what attention is. Some people are using it as a kind of viewability ‘plus’ metric or for an outcomes-based mechanic. Potentially, we do need some standardization around what it is as a metric and measure, but the committees can be slow,” he explains.

Spark Foundry’s McMahon adds that as attention is a progression from older metrics, agencies may not yet be set up with the means to truly consider the implications of creative on ad efficacy.

“The reason that attention is getting so much debate and why clients are so eager for it is because we tried clicks and that didn't really work. We realized that clicks are not really adequate. The next thing along seems to be attention but the problem is that attention inherently relies on the creative being considered into how much attention you're going to get. That's not something we're really used to doing within Media” he adds, explaining that more collaboration with technology providers is needed to plug this gap.

Collaboration across the industry is certainly needed to drive the next phase of growth for attention metrics, but the enthusiasm for a new way of doing things is clear. Whether attention can be the foundation for improving the ad experience has yet to be realized but it’s the horse many are betting on.

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Playground XYZ is on a mission to master the art and science of maximizing consumer attention. The company has built the world’s first technology stack that integrates visual attention measurement, analytics and media optimization called the Attention Intelligence Platform.

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