Be Seen and Be Heard – The Rise of Attention in Advertising

In Uncategorised by hmussard

I returned to London after the long bank holiday weekend, having indulged in some well-deserved down time and actually ‘switching off’.  I jumped on the train and like every other commuter crammed in next to me, I instantly reached for my smartphone to check messages, the news; indeed, anything that would help me escape from the journey and start my day. Then it dawned on me; having stepped away from this routine, it was glaringly obvious how much my fellow commuters and I rely on an ‘always on’ world. There’s no downtime, or chance to embrace a little peace, we are constantly finding an excuse to access the web and to seek new and specific types of content to keep us engaged.

This ‘always on’ culture brings about a new age of consumers, one that advertisers no longer have a specific time window to target and capture, but one of which they need to earn and retain the attention in a content-heavy space.

Brands, advertisers and marketers are aware that the consumer focus is on digital, but it is how they retain focus and stand out in a burgeoning marketplace that will allow them to be successful in reaching this generation of consumers.


The subject of viewability is one of the hottest digital world topics. The current industry standard from MRC and the IAB for a viewable display ad impression is a minimum of 50% of pixels in view for at least one second, and for a viewable digital video ad impression, a minimum of 50% pixels must be in view continuously for at least two seconds. But not everyone felt that this was enough, sparking a keen interest in what constitutes a viewable ad and whether it could be used as a tradeable currency. Group M in particular took a strong stance on the subject, asking all partners to comply to its standard of 100% of an advert being seen for at least 1 second. At Vibrant, we paid close attention to the industry reaction and partnered with MOAT back in December 2014 to ensure all ads comply to Group M Standards. We continue to develop our solutions and ensure ads not only are contextually relevant, but also comply with being seen, which is something on which we continue to take a strong stance in 2018.

However, whilst this goes some way towards producing high quality ads and is a far better method than buying a non-viewable impression, is it enough just to be seen? With the ever looming bot issue, and consumers showing less enthusiasm for content, how can brands continue to make impact with real human audiences, ensuring they are interacted with and ‘heard’?


Attention is possibly one of the most important and scarcest resources that exists. It’s what marketers value most and is key to capturing and resonating with an ‘always on’ audience.  As mentioned previously, people are constantly connected and subsequently busy, often flipping between different things, rather than focusing on one particular task. This fragmented and unfocused consumer behavior is establishing a need for more digestible and relevant content than ever before, and it’s important for advertisers to know that an audience has really seen and appreciated what they have to offer.

So how do we go about measuring and ultimately obtaining relevant attention?

As I’ve already touched on, the industry has made a start on this by checking that an ad was there in the first place (this is where viewability metrics come in). But it is technology that will take us on to the next step and allow us the potential to quantify attention. We can use it to answer questions such as how long was the ad there (in-view time)? did the person interact with the ad (universal interaction)? how long did the interaction last (universal interaction time)? and so on. Being armed with this kind of information will give marketers a better understanding of the environment in which their ad was displayed and allow them to make smarter decisions in future.

It’s not only about measuring the attention, but also how we intrigue our audience and, thus, engage them with the ad in the first place. Unrelated and invasive advertising is irritating and can disrupt consumers browsing pleasure. By getting creative with brand content, by placing it within relevant editorial that is in-line with consumer’s interests, and by making it a user-initiated experience, we can not only help consumers enjoy their advertising experiences but also provide brands with the gateway to gaining the right kind of attention.

This need to focus on attention and to share it gives rise to it’s potential as the newest time-based metric in the market.

Ultimately the digital world can be more successful in this ‘always on’ culture if brands focus on being both ‘seen’ and ‘heard’.