A lack of attention has superseded a lack of information as the bottleneck of our human capacity. What is called the “attention economy” has long been the centrepiece in the development of digital media, and rightfully so. But what lessons can marketers take going into 2023? And how does the attention economy manifest itself in the upcoming year?
Information is far from scarce nowadays, you could even argue oversaturated. A quick google for “sewing on a buttonhole” results in 5 690 000 different sites trying to teach you a skill that your parents would have had to call your grandparents for. At the same time, our world is fully loaded with ads, all screaming in bright colours and bouncing animations just waiting to be looked at. It is now estimated that a person is exposed to approximately 4´000 to 10´000 ads every day. And who remembers having seen even a fraction of that? That is in part due to that, although our access to information has increased exponentially in the digital age, our capacity to process this information has remained unchanged. In essence, all content in the digital sphere is competing for the one scarce good left: our time and attention.
So why should this worry digital marketers? Simply put, an ad not seen is a message not received. And that is money thrown out the window. So in a world where clients demand increased transparency and value for their money, and customers increasingly value their digital integrity and privacy, attention should be in every marketer’s toolbox, ready to be employed.
Consumers are reclaiming their time
It seems as though humans are at a pivotal moment in their internet journey. Online screen time has decreased by 13 minutes in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels, according to GWI (2023). That is over 3 full days a year of less online time. Apps that are designed to be non-addictive (and maybe more crucial, ad-free), such as Wordle and BeReal, have seen incredible popularity in 2022 (Bloomberg, 2022). Audio formats are loved for their screenless form of entertainment, and a mostly lockdown-free world means people can enjoy each other’s company in real-life again (Dagens Media, 2022). All these signs point towards a customer that is more aware of their online behaviour and actively takes steps towards balance and well-being. To make matters worse for advertisers, people are great at avoiding ads and distractions when on the internet. Whether it is physical avoidance by leaving the TV for the ad break or mentally blocking out anything resembling a banner on a website, these are just two of many techniques that everyone should be familiar with to avoid spending your time watching ads. In short, advertisers find themselves now in the perfect storm of these trends coming together at the same time in 2023, and a data-driven approach to effective advertising is needed to create ads that people want to give their attention to.
Care for your customer and make your customer care
It is easier said than done, but the most important factor to get customers’ attention is to get them to care about what the ad has to say. This requires a customer-first approach to identify a benefit that the customer can obtain from interacting with your ad and that this benefit is brought to the customer when they need it. Through utilizing contextual and native advertising, marketers can ensure that the content is relevant, usable and correctly targeted to your target audience. Research suggests that contextual advertising drives interest and information sharing more so than interest-based or demographic-based advertising, and maybe most importantly, respondents feel less annoyed when seeing the ad (Seedtag, 2023).
And annoyance is precisely the feeling you do not want customers to link to your brand. Your products or services have already been designed to alleviate a customer pain point, so why should your advertisement not do the same? Furthermore, the unavoidable cookieless world makes a great case for contextual and native advertising and provides a future-proof way of reaching your target audience with great ads. In short, contextual and native advertising is a great way to capture your customer’s attention and deliver value through advertising.
Make AI your best companion
AI has been a hot topic for a while, but recent months have shown that advancements can come fast and from unexpected corners. New tools like chatbot ChatGPT and image-generator Dall.E have proven the immense value of AI-based technologies and the wide-reaching consequences that these can have on all types of businesses. Anyone who thinks that human attention is not predictable by AI is sorely mistaken.
In the field of attention-based advertising, eye-tracking measurements of ads have become increasingly precise in tracking human attention and have become a popular way to quantify attention into data-driven actions. The downside is that they require an extensive setup, a panel of customers to sit in front of a computer, and they take a long time to complete. However, AI-based eye-tracking models have proven to show up to 95% accuracy in predicting where customers will look at any given ad, whether it is digital ads, out-of-home, or videos (Neurons, 2023). Thus, AI-based eye-tracking offers the same benefits as real-life eye-tracking but at a fraction of the cost and time needed to conduct these tests. This allows companies to make fast and, most importantly, informed and data-driven decisions on creative materials before, during, or after the campaign has gone live. This technology will undoubtedly develop further in the future. However, already now, it shows great results that help marketers pay for what is really worth paying: attention going to the right place.
What to take with you going into the new year
That the field of advertising has become more competitive in the past few years is no surprise, but human attention is a pressing topic that marketers can take advantage of to create meaningful and effective advertising. Through contextual and native advertising, companies can deliver real value through their content. Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence has become a real powerhouse to predict human attention and allows for quick optimization of ads to make sure customers pay attention to what you have to say. Although attention is still a difficult concept to quantify, our team at Making Science offers great expertise and experience to optimize your campaigns and ads to thrive in 2023.
At Making Science we have worked extensively at working to offer AI-based eye tracking solutions to efficiently obtain data-driven recommendations on creative materials. Get in touch with us to learn more!