Future of Media Marketing Measurement Attention Marketing

Why 2023 will be the breakout year for attention measurement

By Dan Slivjanovski, Chief marketing officer

December 23, 2022 | 7 min read

In the coming year, attention metrics could bolster CTV measurement, see wider standardization and become a cross-channel currency for advertisers to transact on, argues DoubleVerify's Dan Slivjanovski.

Eye looking through leaf

/ Drew Dizzy Graham

Leaders in the digital media industry have been making noise about attention metrics for some time. Proxies for performance, like viewability, reach and frequency – carried over from the early days of advertising – no longer suffice and tell an incomplete story.

With the added pressure of consumer privacy concerns and looming cookie deprecation, demand for accurate, privacy-friendly attention signals has only intensified. Providing insight into factors like time spent with an ad, how the user interacts with the ad, or the ad’s placement and prominence on the page – indicators of actual engagement and exposure – attention metrics help marketers more accurately measure and optimize performance.

While attention has been championed by individual advertisers, platforms and publishers, the industry has not yet come together to offer clear definitions and standards for what attention is, and how it should be used to influence campaign strategy and optimization.

This is further complicated by ad spend flowing into channels where even basic measurement is challenging, such as CTV. That said, progress toward adoption of attention metrics has accelerated through 2022 and, much like viewability before it, transacting on attention is becoming not only viable, but empirically correlated with campaign performance.

In 2023, we can expect to see an ever increasing slate of key industry stakeholders jumping on the attention bandwagon and helping advance the paradigm in terms of accreditation and standardization. While attention is already creating a paradigm shift in media measurement, here’s why it is at an exciting inflection point.

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Supercharging CTV

Attention will be pivotal in measuring campaign performance on CTV in the coming year. As CTV adoption continues to grow, consumers are opting for ad-supported models, instead of paying for additional subscriptions.

In 2022, Netflix and Disney+ announced the launch of ad-supported tiers, joining the likes of HBO Max, NBCU’s Peacock and other premium channels. The combination of more eyeballs and more inventory has led to increased ad spending in CTV, which eMarketer forecasts will grow by 27.2% year-over-year in 2023. This trend, in turn, is leading global marketers to push for better performance measurement on CTV – to justify premium budget allocations in terms of campaign performance, and quantify return on digital investments. A clear path to outcomes is becoming an imperative.

Forward-looking advertisers are already rethinking the viability of traditional metrics – such as viewability – as a proxy for measuring performance in CTV. The assumption that all CTV inventory is viewable is false. In fact, DoubleVerify found that in one out of four top CTV environments, streamed content continued to play after the TV screen was turned off.

In 2023, attention metrics will help us make advances in demonstrating performance in CTV. Attention metrics enable advertisers to identify and optimize toward high-exposure environments – where it’s possible to validate that the ad is shown in full, while the screen is still on. Not only that, we can measure whether the ad has played through – a metric that is critical to CTV advertisers.

The shift toward standardization

The industry will progress toward standardization of attention metrics.

While it’s essential for marketers to be able to measure performance across all relevant channels, challenges like inconsistent measurement, reliance on multiple measurement partners and black box methodologies still remain.

However, this industry has a track record of solving comparable challenges, especially with metrics that show potential to become transactional currencies. Take viewability, for example – under the guidance of the IAB and MRC, digital industry leaders aligned and created standard definitions of viewability, which could be readily applied to media quality measurement and optimization across display and video.

Another example is brand safety and suitability. As advertisers’ apprehension of brand-content misalignment reached its apex, tech vendors, brands, agencies and trade groups collaborated to create a standard framework for a brand safety floor and brand suitability tiers. Today, both the buy- and sell-side are able to use that infrastructure to align on safety and suitability goals and standards.

The industry will (and should) do the same for attention metrics. Industry-leading, independent bodies will help bring about both standardization and accreditation for attention measurement in the coming year.

Attention as currency

Attention will become a currency that advertisers can transact on. Leveraging attention as a transactional currency for digital media performance makes common sense.

Currently, however, most advertisers use attention metrics primarily for post-campaign measurement and manual optimizations. The process of transacting on attention is still in its early days. However, there’s proof that advertisers can improve their campaign performance by leveraging algorithmic, real-time optimizations to maximize attention – in the form of ad exposure and user engagement – at an optimal cost of inventory (i.e., an effective attention-based CPM).

We expect macroeconomic conditions going into 2023 to constitute a tailwind for attention activation, as advertisers demand increased accountability of spend and clear correlation with measurable campaign outcomes.

Ultimately, we anticipate that attention metrics will transform campaign decision-making going forward, providing a currency for performance and helping advertisers truly maximize their digital investments.

Dan Slivjanovski is chief marketing officer at DoubleVerify.

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