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Platform is the largest influence on attention, Finecast report finds

By Michael Nutley | Writer for The Drum

August 4, 2022 | 5 min read

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The platform an ad appears on is the most important factor in determining how much audience attention it commands, according to new research from addressable TV company Finecast and research firm Amplified Intelligence. And while TV is brilliant at delivering that attention, over-the-top (OTT) is even better.

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OTT audience pays more attention to ads the longer they go on

The report – Capturing Attention with Addressable: a study into audience attention and the role relevance plays across TV advertising – shows the OTT audience pays more attention to ads the longer they go on. They also pay around 20% more active attention to those ads than they do to those on linear TV, their interest in ads doesn’t decline the longer the programming continues, and they’re less likely to be distracted than they are watching traditional TV advertising.

According to Finecast director of product marketing Stacy Collings, there are four lessons for marketers in these findings:

  • Think about how to better utilize addressable TV advertising in marketing strategies

  • Utilize audiences to their full potential

  • Build creative to match the audience

  • Be mindful of branding, to ensure viewers know who they are

“The platform is the largest driver of the potential amount of attention that can be gained for an ad,” she said. “Creative ranks third, above branding but behind audience. That being said, creative should be tailored to the platform and the audience to achieve the best possible outcomes. Tailored creative performs better than generic.”

The importance of attention

The report focuses on attention because of its positive correlation with brand performance – across both long- and short-term – and also with whether people think of a particular brand when they’re planning a purchase.

“Increasing attention by even just a couple of seconds has a huge impact on campaign performance, but some advertising environments generate more attention than others. Understanding what impacts attention – from platform and audience, to creative and branding – is vital to creating successful TV advertising campaigns,” the report observes.

The report analyzes attention in terms of what it calls ‘attention elasticity’. This is the difference between the average most and least attention paid. The key fact, according to the report, is that TV (both linear and OTT) has much more elasticity than scrollable online platforms. In other words, the top limit of time people spend paying attention to TV ads is significantly higher than that for online ads.

This explains why platform has more influence than creative on the amount of attention an ad attracts.

“We know from previous research that memory starts to kick in at about three seconds, so when ads don’t meet this attention memory threshold, it’s hard for brands to grow,” the report explains. “Longer ads allow for more complex messaging to be communicated. Longer ads also drive mental availability. Whereas online is hemmed in by the limitations of the platform, TV – both linear and OTT – gives the advertiser more room for the creative to get to work and for the message to get across.”

Audience matters

The report also looks at the influence the makeup of the audience has on attention. Active attention (in the room, watching the TV) increases with age, as does the duration of that attention. As the report notes: “Youth are typically more distracted when viewing media”.

Gender makes a difference too. Women are more likely to pay passive attention (in the room, not watching the TV) than men are. The report points out that this kind of insight can be useful in selecting the audience for an ad “since there are many cases where the advertiser’s message is particularly suited to passive attention”.

“Our study of Finecast’s addressable audiences validates the notion that the overall attention received by an ad depends on who makes up the audience that sees it. This is a positive step; knowing that you’re selecting the right audience for your ad is more than half the battle in achieving ad impact.”

Specific benefits of OTT

The report concludes that OTT has specific benefits for advertisers over and above those traditionally associated with TV. The first is that it allows ads to be aligned to be much more relevant to specific audiences. OTT audiences are also less likely to be distracted while watching ads than are those on other platforms. Finally, the duration of the attention an OTT audience gives an ad allows advertisers to deliver longer, more complex messages.

It concludes that, when considered alongside existing research; “the large-screen nature of OTT works well as a branding solution that delivers short-term brand choice outcomes and offers a full-funnel play for brands.”

To read the full Finecast report, Capturing Attention with Addressable: a study into audience attention and the role relevance plays across TV advertising, click here

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