Attention: How Publishers Can Make the Case for Digital Video

Attention: How Publishers Can Make the Case for Digital Video

It has been widely acknowledged in the advertising industry that consumers are multi-tasking more and more, especially when they are watching TV. In fact, the IAB’s January 2015 study, “The Changing TV Experience: Attitudes and Usage Across Multiple Screens,” found that 69% of consumers use their smartphone while watching TV.

We observed similar trends in our past research studies and also found that consumers were using other devices (tablets, smartphones and computers) a majority of the time when watching television.

However, what we didn’t understand was the impact that multi-tasking had on ad metrics. So, in late 2014, we conducted AOL’s Video Ad Attention Study. What we found was quite powerful.

Multi-tasking happens frequently when people are watching videos across screens (from TV to laptop to smartphone), and that, in turn, lessens the impact each device’s respective ads have on consumers, particularly for TV commercials. In fact, viewers are distracted 17% more often on TV than viewing video on any other device, and television’s ad impact drops by more than 2X compared to ad impact on digital devices.

With our findings, we created the Attention Index. The Attention Index can be used as a weight to compare things like impressions across screens/dayparts.

For example, our index shows that to equal the ad impact on recall and persuasion in short form OLV (online video), you need 17% more impressions in Primetime TV to achieve the same advertising results. Additionally, when we break it down further by generation, brands need 48% more impressions from Millennials and 20% more impressions from women in Primetime TV to get the same ad results.

The index has become an important tool for us as we talk to advertisers about shifting some of their TV budget into other digital video options to better communicate to their consumers.

Here are additional insights publishers can arm themselves with when educating their advertisers on how to better allocate media spend on other video channels.

  1. Reach and frequency measures the ‘opportunity to see’ a video ad. If a consumer isn’t actually watching the ad due to distraction or multitasking, a reach/frequency count is not an accurate representation of what the advertiser is actually getting with for their spend. The Attention Index we created can directly be used as a weighting variable for different types of video inventory. It supplements reach and frequency metrics and can be used as an input into how advertisers can more precisely value video ad inventory.
  2. The smartphone and tablet are most effective at retaining the value of its video advertising, even with the added distractions and multi-tasking behavior. This is most likely due to the fact that these devices are more “personal” and simply physically closer to the consumer when they are watching videos.
  3. Video viewers are cross-device viewers who happily watch videos across any device. In fact, 80% of weekly smartphone video watchers also watch videos at least weekly on their tablet, and 81% of them watch video on their laptop. As such, advertisers should accelerate their investment in digital video, and mobile specifically, to effectively communicate brand messages.
  4. Ultimately, consumers’ motivation for watching video across any device is about wanting to be entertained (41%), to relax or unwind (34%), or to take a break from doing something else (21%). If you’re not aligning your digital video content and ad strategy with these motivations in mind you’re missing the mark.

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