New year, new format: CMI’s weekly news series has evolved into What’s New – a hot take on a current marketing topic.
Every week, CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose will explain a hot topic or pattern – including why you should care about it. More than headlines of the week, Robert’s analysis will expand to cover emerging trends before they make marketing news, new looks at tried-and-possibly-no-longer-true standards, and almost forgotten tactics poised to reenter the mix.
And that’s where the series debut kicks off. As the song lyric from All That Jazz goes: “Everything old is new again.”
Twenty-five years ago — before you could measure clicks, acquisition, downloads, and engagement — marketers bought ads to capture people’s attention.
In 2024, Robert says, B2B marketers will return to attention metrics. Watch and listen to what he has to say, or read on for the highlights:
Challenging old and newer impact metrics
In the old days, marketers placed ads in magazines or on television, letting them run for a defined period. Then, they’d ask consumers, “Hey, do you remember seeing this ad?” The responses would turn into a metric — ad recall.
During that era, some consumers developed a set of liked and disliked commercials. I know I did. I still run into old TV ads I truly enjoyed and some I couldn’t stand.
For the ad recall method, marketers often asked follow-up questions:
- “Hey, did we get your attention?”
- And, if so, “Did you like what you saw?”
Today, performance metrics rely on data increasingly hard to ascertain. Privacy regulations and browser changes have taken away some of the fancier metrics marketers once tracked for performance-based digital advertising.
Meanwhile, programmatic ads have come under fire for placing brand content next to provocative, unethical, or even fraudulent material. So brand safety is now top of mind for marketers who focus on media buys. They’re looking more closely at who gets the impressions and how they’re getting those impressions.
That tension — the need for better insight into who’s seeing what (and where) and the emerging difficulty in tracking data-driven performance — fuels the renewed popularity of attention metrics.
New ways to measure attention
New technologies make attention metrics even more interesting than they were 25 years ago.
Biometric methods involve facial recognition, eye tracking, and even brain waves. Of course, much like focus groups of the past, these measurements usually require a controlled group. But it also requires specialized devices. As you know, people don’t organically hook their brains to their computers — not yet, anyway.
A more popular method combines data signals — dwell time, scroll speed, cursor location, and completion rates, especially for video and audio. These metrics are easier to track. But, since no current standard exists for attention metrics, you must do a lot of interpretation to calculate attention metrics.
Explicit feedback offers another attention metric method. It includes what I term “emotional data” — audiences tell you whether they paid attention to it. You can assess this through immediate feedback surveys or interactivity with paid media.
Perhaps the most interesting trend revolves around the growth of artificial intelligence to consume a combination of metrics. New technology solutions from companies like Lumen Research, Adelaide, and Playground XYZ combine many metrics through machine learning to create more accessible attention metrics for marketers.
Plan to get (and keep) human attention
I’ll add one more thing that makes attention worth paying attention to.
The brand and the authentic, human-sourced content will become a significant differentiator in 2024.
As generative AI scales marketing content from ad creation to derivative content and even aspects of thought leadership, successful companies will lean into their human creators, subject matter experts, and brand to differentiate the experiences they create. Holding attention will be a crucial measurement to understand what works across all forms of content.
This is something I’ll pay attention to. How about you?
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute