The Critical Importance of Optimizing for Human Attention in Advertising

Attention is the most valuable resource in the advertising industry. It is a prerequisite for message reception, encoding, and ultimately, the ability to change perception and drive behavior. As advertising legend Bill Bernbach said, “If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.” 

While the idea of measuring and optimizing for human attention to improve advertising effectiveness is becoming more prominent in the industry, there are still those who believe it’s a concept too ephemeral to properly be measured or too marginal to grant the investment needed to make it mainstream. 

This adverse perspective is often driven by a limited understanding of the nuances around this topic or a deliberate effort to protect a business interest. While there’s little I can do about the latter, I want to help address the former. I do so here by laying out some of the foundations for a constructive conversation around this fundamental resource. 

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What the virus has shown me

We are facing a pandemic to a degree we’ve never seen in modern times, and there is a whole range of emotions in trying to deal with this new reality. We can’t avoid being afraid. However, part of me can’t help but see the current events as a force for good. 

All around the world, countries, companies, and individual people are making long-overdue changes now that we finally have the right incentive.

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Adapt or Become Extinct: The Marketing Status Quo Will Soon Be Irrelevant

For the past ten years working in digital marketing, the world has been divided into Branding and Performance Marketing. Branding is full of large budgets and not much accountability for their results. Performance Marketing (or Direct Response) has ugly creatives but gets beautiful, carefully documented returns. Advertising has not always been lik…

Delivering Better Brand Experiences: Why It’s So Hard and What to Do About It

Great marketing is about making consumers enjoy the experience they have with your brand. Every consumer touchpoint should be a delightful brand experience, even when carrying a commercial message. This is how you positively impact everyday customer behavior and purchasing decisions. If we want people to change how they behave, we have to change their experiences. In spite of this knowledge, brand marketing is often tied to vanity metrics that don’t drive any real behavior change, and performance marketing is not much better than the cheesy infomercial you see on late-night TV.

But marketers want to do better: no one sets out to do a mediocre job. The industry is continuously innovating to deliver better brand experiences and drive impact, but the results are often inconsistent, making it difficult to know what new practices to adopt.

This post explores some of the current efforts made to provide a better brand experience. Through this careful exploration, we’ll discuss why it’s so hard to raise the bar and look to the future to see how to break out of stale marketing cycles.

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The Hidden Threat for CPG Companies

Last week I was invited to a roundtable with other CPG industry experts, and we were asked if we thought the competition for CPG companies was going to intensify or decrease over the next 12 to 24 months. My answer was similar to the other experts’, but I gave different reasons than many of them. After a few days pondering about the answer I gave, I realized that I was way off base. While other experts reasonably argued that competition would increase due to the pressure retailers create by promoting private label brands, I justified my answer saying that the raise of eCommerce would force CPG companies to develop skills and knowledge not currently in their repertoire, forcing them to compete in a field mostly foreign to them. Now I realize I was completely off. Let me explain why.

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