Want to Know the Single-Most Important Factor Driving Attention in Advertising? This Is It

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The single-most important factor in driving attention in advertising probably isn’t what you’d expect. Could it be creative quality ?

According to a new study by Emodo, a subsidiary of Ericsson that runs a programmatic exchange, traditional KPIs like viewability and clicks aren’t as useful in identifying whether an ad is making an impact on the end viewer as many agency leads would believe. In fact, Emodo researchers found that creative quality actually has the biggest impact on key advertiser KPIs. 

Unfortunately, creative formats are rarely measured — and rarely optimized. 

To uncover how the relative impact of a creative format impacts viewer attention and memorability, and explore the role of optimizing ad creatives in overall performance, Emodo tested ads in four specific site categories — gaming, news, weather, and productivity — using eye-tracking technology. Nine tests were administered to more than 1,200 participants, with three brands using three creative sizes each. Factors like creative assets, ad slots, and sites were held constant, giving researchers the ability to quantify the impact of creative formats on overall ad effectiveness.

Researchers quickly found that dynamic ads performed better on all attention and memorability metrics across all four types. The highest lifts in brand recall and ad recall, when comparing animated ads to identical ads without effects, were found on websites in the news category.

Marketers saw increases across all metrics when they leveraged simultaneous optimization of creative formats, compared to those that optimized just one or two dimensions. Optimization of both factors resulted in a 71% lift in brand recall, a 51% lift in ad recall, and a 34% increase in average time spent.

Animated ad formats had a constantly positive impact on both attention and memorability across all sites, sizes, and page categories.

“In the rapidly evolving landscape of ad effectiveness, the industry is witnessing a notable surge in attention metrics, which hold the potential to redefine advertising currencies,” explained Megan Saunders, senior vice president of global marketing and growth at Emodo. “Attention alone is an important means to an end, but it is the power of memorability that truly drives successful ad campaigns. And it’s critical to realize that so much of that is based on the creative — not just the creative concept, but also the format and the tech-based innovation that make for great digital ads. It’s too bad most attention metrics ignore creative.”

The results of Emodo’s research are particularly timely given the imminent demise of third-party cookies in digital advertising. Surveys show that up to 80% of c-level marketers say they are experiencing a decline in campaign effectiveness as a result of ID loss. 

While Emodo researchers found that the relationship between attention and memorability was positive overall, differences were subtle when optimizing ad slots. Emodo found a far more extreme correlation among creatives that had been optimized in addition to the ad slot. A greater focus on attention-grabbing creative formats was shown to have a significant influence on driving memorability.

The release of Emodo’s latest study comes less than a year after the launch of Emodo Adapt, a native ad format that leverages a dynamic proprietary creative rendering engine to enrich ads. According to Emodo researchers, Adapt has consistently increased both attention and memorability metrics compared to identical creatives without the dynamic elements. 

In an interview with Street Fight, Emodo Chief Operating Officer Damian McKenna said the company is working on a number of initiatives to boost advertiser performance in the wake of Google’s decision to disable third-party cookies for Chrome users early next year.

“We’ve continued to evolve and innovate around how to leverage AI and we’re now doing so to improve our audience and ID-less targeting capabilities, to optimize dynamic creative formats against performance KPIs, and to improve and verify our supply offerings,” McKenna said.

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.