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How programmatic can help brands stand out as attention becomes a scarce commodity

By Indy Khabra | National managing director



Opinion article

October 1, 2018 | 6 min read

Data is the new oil, attention is the new black…however you want to spin it, consumption behaviours have been wildly disrupted in what’s been coined as the fourth industrial revolution – the age of connectivity. And while this exposes loads of opportunity for marketing and the technology that powers it, it also poses significant challenges for brands and the consumers with whom they are trying to connect.

The idea that attention is a scarce commodity is not a new one, as Herbert Simon famously wrote in 1971:


Programmatic, in combination with context, people and experiences, is delivering real outcomes.

“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

Over the last 50 years, we have gone from being exposed to 500 brand and advertising messages per day to an average of 5,000 messages a day, according to marketing firm Yankelovich. Capturing even a fraction of high-demand consumer attention and harnessing engagement with a brand’s messaging is increasingly difficult.

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Programmatic, in combination with context, people and experiences, is delivering real outcomes and measuring value in today’s attention economy by keeping up with consumers and the expansion of digital interfaces.

Cost of everything, value of nothing

Australians are checking their phones 80 million times more often than they were last year. Collectively, this is a massive 560 million times per day, or individually, more than 35 times a day on average.

Advertising everywhere is only growing as we become more connected as humans, homes, cars...even our toilets. More digital touch points means more data...and provides more depth to the promise of people-based marketing. Whether it is on a TV, a smartwatch, a billboard, or even a refrigerator - anywhere there is or will be a screen represents an opportunity to tell a brand's story.

While we’re far along the data journey with technology that can thoughtfully stitch together consumer engagement from the offline into the online world across any channel and device, one hurdle marketers still face is the ability to target the right audiences; to garner – and keep - eyeballs in the new attention economy.

And when it comes to measuring the value of media, have we gone too far down the rabbit hole focusing on the cost of everything but the value of nothing?

Context and experience, together with real people and technology

This equation represents how programmatic can save brands in today’s attention economy. By connecting with the right audience, delivering relevance and measuring outcomes, brands are free to create experiences that are timely and engaging – and be sure they’re reaching real people.

One promise of programmatic is to value audiences on an individual basis and step away from the cost metrics hamster wheel into value-based audiences and data. Gone (soon) will be the days of mass segmentation based on loosely defined demographics like age brackets of 20-45. It’s hard to imagine a 45-year-old’s purchasing behaviours and interests are the same as a 25-year-old.

Being able to target audiences based on your goals and having insight into what makes an audience “premium” coupled with machine intelligence to find those audiences when they’re engaged is critical in the age of over saturation. Now you can understand the value of your desired audience and target them in the right moment, and dynamic technology then enables you to provide personalised experiences within the right context and brand safe environment.

Another consideration is the value of the medium. A connected TV is different from Facebook is different from Audio. Utilising an agnostic platform that maximises ad spend by determining the best way to provide ROI across channels, devices and audiences are table stakes in the digital era.

Programmatic delivers greater value by leveraging data in combination with automation efficiencies and machine learning, transforming data into actionable insights that provide modern marketers with the ability to find valuable audiences at scale.

Indy Khabra is the national managing director for Amnet, the programmatic buying arm of Dentsu Aegis Network, in Australia and New Zealand.

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