Brands personalize ad placement.

Why Brands Are Using Attention Metrics to Personalize Ad Placement, Creative

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Tony the Tiger. Ronald McDonald. The Pillsbury Doughboy. Some of the most well-known and beloved characters of all time were born out of advertising. They helped to make products and brands recognizable, and they appealed to consumers from all walks of life. While ad campaigns featuring the Energizer Bunny or the Old Spice Guy remain memorable, even today, the one-size-fits all approach to advertising isn’t as effective as it once was. The rise in new digital media platforms, coupled with an exponential increase in time spent online, has ushered in a new advertising era — one where personalized content reigns supreme. Eighty percent of shoppers today say they’re more likely to buy from a brand that offers personalized experiences, and marketers report an average 20% sales increase when they personalize ad placement. 

To learn more about why it’s crucial that marketers and advertisers cater to the call for personalization — and how they should go about doing that — we reached out to Hamza Kourimate, vice president and global head of sales marketing and data solutions at Dailymotion, the Paris-based video-sharing technology platform owned by Vivendi. Kourimate was able to tell us about the rise in advergames, the death of third-party cookies, and why attention metrics are the next frontier in measuring ad performance.

Q. Why is it more important for brands to create personalized ad experiences today than anytime in the past?

A. The proliferation of new digital media platforms, and the exponential increase in time spent on digital media, has ushered in amplified consumer demands of ads served. It’s increasingly crucial that marketers and advertisers alike cater to the call for personalization in order to achieve campaign success. 

Of course, to create these personalized experiences, it’s first important to have a firm understanding of what an ad experience is. At their core, most ad experiences are interactive video ads – perhaps with a few additional features stapled on, depending on the brand and campaign. At Dailymotion, we create these ad experiences by leveraging existing video assets from a client, then applying a layer of interactive content – whether it be a carousel or advergame.

Creative personalization in the form of interactive ads has a huge impact on key marketing KPIs, such as brand awareness, ad memorization and purchase intent. According to our research, contextual segmentation and rich media pre-rolls improve ad perception by 24 points, user comprehension by 15 points, attention by 11 points and attribution by 37 points. With the average American being exposed to between 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day, competition to grasp consumers’ attention has never been more fierce. To attract target consumers, brands must provide what their audience is calling for: personalized ad experiences.

Q. What can you tell me about how brands should be using audience segments to identify what ad creatives best resonate with which cohorts?

A. Creating audience segments is crucial to identify which ad creatives best resonate with specific cohorts. This process often begins with pre-campaign marketing surveys to determine initial cohort groups. Then, first party data – either from a company itself or called in from external partners – is used to conduct further audience profiling. At Dailymotion, we have a large database of first party data gathered from our own video streaming platform, as well as our video player that partners can embed on their websites. With this data, we look at factors like video interests, demographics and semantic interest to identify personas and associate the right ad experience to each cohort. 

From there, it’s common to utilize A/B testing to gauge what ad formats and creatives resonate well with their associated cohorts. To reap the best results, brands should be using audience segments to create and associate certain ad creatives with certain cohorts, then pivot and improve the ads or targeting as needed, based on their findings.

Q. What are attention metrics, and why are they becoming an increasingly popular way to measure ad performance?

A. Attention metrics refer to a variety of data points – ingested and synthesized by a machine-learning model – used to predict and measure consumer attention to both an advertisement’s placement and its creative. Most attention measurements begin with eye tracking: evaluating where viewers’ eyes dart toward can help advertisers confidently assume how much attention an ad received, and what locations of the ad – therefore which features of the ad – drew the most attention. 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, legacy performance metrics like viewability and view through rate are no longer a convincing measure of ad efficacy. And during a time where businesses are paying extra close attention to money allocation and ROIs, measurements must be as accurate as possible. With this considered, attention metrics are becoming the next frontier.

Q. How do you see the death of third-party cookies influencing the way brands run personalized ad campaigns?

A. Most brands rely on third-party cookies to deliver personalized ads. With the looming end of third-party cookies, this will completely disrupt the way brands run personalized ad campaigns – as they will need to find a new method altogether to deliver these campaigns. 

Third-party cookies can help brands target ads specific to each consumers’ browsing history and assumed interests. But does this alter how those ads are placed and presented? Or what specific ad creative a consumer is served? No. Third-party cookies can help with targeting, but that’s largely where its capabilities end. 

In action, I argue that today’s use of ‘personalized ad experiences’ better aligns with ‘personalized ad targeting.’ But with up-and-coming tools like attention metrics, actual personalized ad experiences may not be too far on the horizon. Acquiring deeper insight into the specific components of ad performance means brands can better understand why some ads perform better than others. An ad’s performance largely depends on how it’s targeted: but it also equally depends on that ad’s creative and placement. 

Let’s say an advertiser identified an audience segment labeled as runners or those interested in running. If this advertiser relied on third-party cookies, they would likely target consumers in this audience segment with running shoe brands they’ve engaged with recently. In contrast, if this advertiser were to rely on analyzing consumer behavior instead, they may find that one slice of this audience segment spent more time looking at long distance running shoes, while the other slice spent more time looking at sprinting shoes. Having this knowledge, the advertiser could then create separate ad campaigns for both slices of the audience segment, adapting ad components like the copy and assets, to further personalize each cohort’s ad experience.

Q. Why do you see interactive video ads and advergames as an underutilized ad format?

A. Most viewers are eager to skip ads and may have habitual tendencies to press “skip ad” buttons after repeatedly doing so for so many years. It can be easy for viewers to do so when most of the ads they come across are presented in the same formats – most commonly, banner and pop-up ads. To curb this viewer habit, brands should seek out underutilized ad formats that not only redirect viewers’ attention, but also present ads in a refreshing way. 

Interactive video ads – with features like interactive buttons or even full-fledged games – are one option for brands to present consumers with the same buyer message, but in a new way. Advergames may be deployed in the form of a puzzle, quiz, arcade-style action game, or some other interactive experience. Research shows that consumers have a more positive attitude toward advergames than other types of advertising, and our own data shows that advergames improve user attention by 37 points. Brands should experiment with interactive video ads and advergames, then explore their success.

This interview has been edited for space and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.