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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4 predictions for TV advertising in 2020 and what it means for advertisers

Inspired by the 2019 State of Digital Marketing report by Luma Partners, I’ve decided to combine what they have shared with some of the data points I’ve been collecting over the past few months and come up with my 4 predictions for the TV and video industry in 2020 and related trends over the next two or three years. Based on these predictions, we can also speculate what advertisers and companies should do to keep their competitive edge.

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The idiosyncrasies of the TV advertising industry and what needs to happen

It has been a long hiatus. A new role at ABI has kept me busy in the past six months. During that time, I wrote a couple of pieces for AdExchanger that took me away from this blog, but I have had an itch to write a new opinion post.

As a digital marketer who is now responsible for a large TV budget, I decided to write about the current state of the TV advertising industry. It’s not surprising that someone with my background would be critical of a medium that has hardly evolved in the past 70 years, but I feel I can provide a different perspective. Besides, there’s little point in me discussing some hot topics of the digital marketing industry. Marc Prichard is already doing a tremendous job at demanding transparency and fair practice in the digital space, and he definitely has more pull than I have. There are also people with the caliber of Scott Galloway and Elizabeth Warren arguing for the need to  break up and regulate “big tech.” They have eloquent and extensive arguments; there’s little I can add there.

I see three idiosyncrasies as clear signs that the TV industry is desperate to reinvent itself to avoid disruption or obsolescence. While not extensive or equally applicable to all the players in the market, these signs serve to make a larger point: 

  • Audiences are traded like crude oil
  • Semantic innovation
  • Fluctuating moral compasses

In this analysis, I don’t want to only point out what’s wrong. I also want to offer some thoughts on how the TV industry could evolve to live a new golden age and truly oppose players like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Google, who are not afraid of short-term losses, sit on piles of cash, will likely spend north of $30 billion in content, and pride themselves of being “category disruptors.” 

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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…

How to Plan a Marketing Campaign: from Strategy to Tactics – Part 2

Once you have a clear sense of your business objective and your target audience (topics we discussed in Part 1 of this series), it’s time to take those actionable steps you identified and put them to work for ongoing results. Making a strong plan for your marketing strategy allows you to build on your knowledge, providing ongoing results with sma…