Media Buying Briefing: Holding companies and attention metrics, a KPI or a currency?
OMD Worldwide
28 February 2023

Originally published on Digiday.

The media agency world seems to be in agreement that attention metrics can be an important metric to factor into planning and executing campaigns for clients. In some cases, clients are even pushing their media agencies to adopt attention metrics at a faster clip.

But the ways in which attention metrics are being put to use by media shops are heading in different directions, depending on the holding company media agencies. To oversimplify, it boils down to whether they’re using it as a KPI or a currency.

How a media agency answers that question leads some in the industry to worry that standardization of attention terminology and practices will prove elusive and thereby become an impediment to further adoption and understanding.

“There will be some conflict in some holding companies to use attention to leverage better CPMs with platforms and publishers,” said Max Kalehoff, VP of marketing and growth at RealEyes, an attention metrics provider. “However, the real prize is in better outcomes for advertisers and better experiences for consumers (not lower-cost CPMs). Attention is a highly powerful signal, though unlikely to become a hard currency.”

“It seems like there are two distinct factions – the first comprised of agencies who started using attention for research and planning. They’ve been more active at Cannes and CES and thus seen as having a leadership position in the space,” said Marc Guldimann, CEO of Adelaide, one of several firms providing attention metric tools to agencies, media companies, and marketers.

“The second faction has been more focused on using attention to drive efficiency via measurement and activation. While they’ve been quieter, it’s notable that these agencies have measured and optimized hundreds of campaigns, and one has already started offering attention-based guarantees.”

Here is how Omnicom has approached the incorporation of attention into the flow of work for clients:

As IPG did with Mediahub, Omnicom Media Group is letting its OMD media agency lead the charge on operationalizing and scaling attention, led by OMD CEO Chrissy Hanson (who most recently was chief strategy officer). All attention workflows through Omni, the holding company’s marketing orchestration platform, as Dentsu does with M1. But that’s where the similarities end. Hanson noted that OMD has put attention to use in 11 markets across 13 categories and 25 brands. “That’s how we operationalize the work,” she said. “Because what we have shown is that optimizing to attention lifts KPIs, it improves performance, and it reduces waste. It is a planning metric that does deliver value consistently.”

Britt Cushing, OMD’s managing director and head of communications planning, added that the agency’s attention requirement calculator, leveraged through Omni, takes into consideration elements such as brand maturity, the newness of the creative message, and clutter in the ad’s environment to pick the best possible outcome. “We do need to take that extra step within Omni to have the attention requirement calculator [understand] that nuance specific to the brand’s campaign,” said Cushings.

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