Screenforce webinar ‘The State of the Attention Economy’ with Dr Karen Nelson-Field
31 May 2022

Originally published on Salesforce.

Find the full webinar session here.

On Tuesday 24 May, Screenforce and its Belgian sister organization VIA Association of AV-Media organized the webinar The State of the Attention Economy. The two keynote speakers were Karen Nelson-Field (Founder & CEO, Amplified Intelligence) and Florian Passlick (Associate Director & Senior Market Research Consultant, eye square). The hosts were Tim van Doorslaer (Head of research DPG Media, board member VIA) and Michel van der Voort (Screenforce). The discussion panel included Irene de Vos (Head of Strategy OMD) and Michael Willems (Head of Strategy Dentsu).

Attention is becoming an increasingly important metric for advertisers to take into account. The question is how the surveys in the field of attention are received in the different countries and whether advertisers are already briefing their media agencies on attention as a KPI for communication campaigns.

Karen-Nelson Field: What is visible is not always seen
Karen explains how brands can apply attention to better measure their online advertising and better organize their digital ecosystem. She starts her presentation with the warning that in today’s society attention for advertising is not self-evident and that it is shared by many other incentives. In practice, consumers alternate periods of no attention with periods of little attention and periods of full and active attention. In the latter case, someone looks at both the screen and the ad itself. The biggest problem is that the gap between what is visible and what is actually viewed is huge. Concretely, for advertisers, this means that about 75% of the online advertising they pay for, at an MRC standard they trust, does not deliver the results they think they deliver. The MRC standard (50% of the pixels for 2 seconds) does advertisers an injustice. 


Each platform has its own maximum attention capacity
Scrolling social platforms offer too many distractions. The environment of the advertisements is full of clutter and the advertisement only takes up a small part of the screen, making it less visible. The fact that the sound is often turned off on Facebook does not help either. Platforms differ enormously in how much attention the advertisements on these platforms receive. A very good quality advertisement will not suddenly receive a lot of extra attention on a platform that generates little attention. Longer commercials do work on TV and get more seconds of attention there, but that doesn’t happen online. Each platform has its own maximum attention capacity. Karen Nelson-Field calls this ‘attention elasticity’. Platforms with little attention ensure that advertisements on them also receive little attention and are therefore often not linked to the right brand. 


Machine data tells little about human behaviour
The research results of Amplified Intelligence make it clear that data collected at the device level does not provide a good estimate of the attention that consumers pay to advertisements. Even fixed metrics such as scroll speed, ad length and screen time predict little. The evolution of viewablity data makes it clear that only the continuous registration of the individual gaze and eye movements of people provides reliable insight into attention. 

Six Take Outs
Karen Nelson-Field ends her presentation with six recommendations: 

  • Notice how that attention, the effects of incomparable impressions, affects your campaigns. 
  • Watch out for bad data, they lead to confusion and be sure to pay attention to proxies (estimations). 
  • Media purchasing (procurement) should not focus only on the lowest costs, but should also consider attention. 
  • Pay attention to how the different platforms perform in relation to your short and long term goals. 
  • Talk to your creatives about how to ‘stretch’ attention elasticity 
  • Note how the new attention measures affect media planning and purchasing.

View the sheets and video.  

You can download the full presentation with all of Karen’s sheets here. 


Florian Passlick (Eye Square): most seconds show positive emotion
Florian presents the results of the Track The Success survey, which measures viewing behavior in a natural home situation. 

Viewing behavior measured in natural home situation
Viewing behavior was examined in the natural home situation in households and the viewers were allowed to choose whether they wanted to watch TV, broadcaster video on demand (BVOD), YouTube or Facebook content. The commercials were inserted live into the content that was viewed. The Track the Success survey was conducted in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The sample consisted of 549 individuals of whom 400 hours of media behavior were videotaped and then analysed. 12 commercials of 8 brands in four environment variants (TV, BVOD, YouTube, Facebook) were investigated. This resulted in a total of 3,444 advertising contacts. 

Spontaneous reminder and purchase intention
TV commercials are spontaneously remembered best. This also applies to the aided advertising recall. For BVOD and YouTube, half of the respondents in the survey watched the content via the large TV screen and half watched the content via a smartphone screen. The respondents viewed Facebook via the smartphone screen, half of the commercials viewed via Facebook in the survey were Facebook commercials (which were specially made for this platform) and half of the commercials were ‘regular’ TV commercials. TV and BVOD have the highest purchase intention as a result of video advertising. To the question ‘Suppose you have to buy a (product group), and you can choose from the following brands for the same price, which brand would you choose?’ 26% of the respondents who have seen the TV commercial choose the brand from the commercial. 

Playback time varies greatly
In terms of playing time of the video advertising, for TV, BVOD and YouTube (non-skippable), the vast majority of the entire commercial (96/100% of the total duration) is actually played by the respondents. With Facebook that is only 52% of the total duration. 

Eyes also on the screen
Attention is measured by a camera that registers whether the head/eyes are focused on the screen during playback. In terms of attention, for TV advertising, that is 94% of the time that video advertising lasts. For BVOD that is 89%, for YouTube 85% and for Facebook only 43%. 


Combined effect of gaze direction and how large the ad is displayed on the screen
If we combine the viewing direction with the size of the advertisement on the screen, we see with regard to the observation that TV and BVOD score the best with 94% and 89% respectively and that only 20% of all Facebook video advertisements are observed.

TV viewer most often has a positive emotion
Using an analysis of the facial expressions via the webcam of the respondents, Eye Square has mapped out the reactions to the video advertisements per platform. It turns out that for most seconds of a video ad, TV shows a positive emotion in response to the video ad. When comparing the emotional response of the respondents to the advertisements with that of the content played around it, it also appears that with TV, BVOD and YouTube respondents have only a slightly less positive emotional response to the content played around it (2 to 5% less positive) but that it is a lot more negative at Facebook (21% less positive).

TV is a lean back medium
Based on respondents’ measurements of conductance resistance, Eye Square concludes that viewers to TV are the most relaxed and YouTube viewers are the most tense. This is apparent from the analysis of the average number of peaks in skin conductance per video advertisement per platform. Watching TV is therefore a more relaxed activity and therefore a ‘lean back’ medium.

Conclusion and key take aways 

  • TV advertising is the most visible and the best perceived. 
  • The emotional response to TV advertising is the most positive and the least different from the emotional response to the content played around it. 
  • TV advertising achieves the strongest advertising effectiveness, YouTube and Facebook score a lot lower.

View the sheets and video.  

The sheets with results of the Eye Square study can be downloaded here.

You can watch the video registration of Florian’s presentation here. 


Discussion Panel
Finally, there was a discussion with Michel van der Voort, Tim van Doorslaer, Michael Willems and Irene de Vos about the content of the presentations. The two speakers Karen Nelson-Field and Florian Passlick also took part in this discussion.

According to Irene de Vos, the most important learning from the presentations is that you should not equate viewability with attention. And that cost and reach are important. Michael Willems mentioned three: Use attention for effective media planning, collaborate with creatives and finally that not all human behavior can be explained from data.

According to Irene de Vos, advertisers do not yet routinely brief their media agencies to include attention for advertisements as a KPI. Attention is part of the ‘test & learning program’ at OMD. At Dentsu they work with ‘attance ambassadors’ who are included in every team. These ensure that changes in media consumption and their consequences for attention are included in decision-making. The learnings from the attention surveys are used at a strategic level at both offices.

Karen Nelson-Field said it is still a little too early to speak of an ‘attention currency’. You need to have more data before you have a currency that is comparable to the (American) Nielsen (view) figures. But it is already a quality KPI. Incidentally, she indicates that this could already be the case in the short term, say in a year.

According to Florian Passlick there has been a positive response to the Eye Square results in the various countries. Eye Square has also had no negative or critical response from YouTube and Facebook. Florian Passlick explains that his research certainly corresponds to a normal media use situation. The people watch the content and the commercials in their own living room, there is no researcher present, the job is to just watch the video content as one usually does in the living room and the video content shown is normal and similar to the normal content on TV, YouTube and Facebook. 

At both Dentsu and OMD they recognize the learnings of Eye Square. At Dentsu, they recognize that the different platforms are used for different motives. When you watch YouTube you are often bored and you want to see something fun. TV is viewed with more interest and people consciously choose which program they watch. At OMD they assume that each platform has its own characteristics and its own attention curve. This means that there is a different optimum point in terms of attention for each platform. OMD then combines these learnings with the advertiser’s ambitions/objectives. It is certainly relevant whether it is a new yet unknown product or whether it is a longer existing and already well-known brand. This in turn has consequences for the number of seconds of attention that is required and for which platforms are most suitable.

You can watch the entire webinar with the introduction, the two presentations and the closing discussion here. 

Stay in the know

Sign up
Successfully subscribed! Thank you!

By continuing to use the site you agree to our privacy policy