Thoughts & Opinions 

Attention in advertising: Southeast Asia

Wei Ting Er
April 13, 2023

Attention in advertising: Southeast Asia

2022 was an interesting year for digital advertising in Southeast Asia. We started the year preparing for the post-cookie era, only to see Google push back the deadline on the depreciation of cookies yet again. “Will they, won’t they?” remains a pressing question for advertisers.

Post Covid-19 lockdowns, brands were ramping up their digital media investments into efficient, data driven environments, only to see global recession fears taking over the news shortly after.

Amongst all these questions and challenges, what we do know for sure is that brands are ready to start thinking differently. Marketers are now focusing on a new era in the digital landscape.

Brands are starting to understand the importance of driving top of the funnel objectives to build brand value and equity, and this is driving a shift towards a full funnel approach rather than obsessing over bottom funnel lead generation objectives. At the same time, brands are also looking for more insightful and actionable signals, realising that metrics such as viewability, CTR and Cost Per Lead can’t be relied upon to effectively measure the success of such a full-funnel approach.

In the past 12 months, I’ve spoken with major brands and agencies across Southeast Asia and have seen how the conversation is swiftly moving towards attention. Brands are now asking how to harness attention signals to drive their full-funnel approach and in this article I hope to give a very basic 101 on where they should start.

Attention Time

Being at the forefront of the attention revolution, Playground xyz has helped the world’s largest brands realise the potential of attention measurement and optimisation, based upon its own metric, Attention Time.  A quality-based metric, defined as the length of time (in seconds) a consumer looks at your ad, it’s a metric that answers the fundamental question in advertising - are my creatives capturing the attention of my target audience? 

One misconception I’ve heard is that “attention is just Viewability 2.0”. Whilst I see how that conclusion could be arrived at, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Viewability is a hygiene metric, necessary for advertisers to be sure that their media spend is securing impressions actually visible to consumers. But it doesn’t give any indication of the effectiveness of those impressions.

Attention Time is far more than a hygiene metric. Where Viewability measures the opportunity to be seen, Attention Time measures how much impact your ad is actually having with your audience.

It can be applied to your campaigns at both a creative and media level - ensuring that the creative that you put out is the most attention-grabbing, and making sure it appears in placements that give you the most attention. 

In terms of creative, Attention Time unlocks unparalleled opportunity for creative optimisation. Measuring attention in real-time, on every single impression, can help us determine how well your creatives are doing in capturing the attention time of your target audience. This helps you to optimise your campaign towards the best performing creatives, and by extension drive campaign metrics. 

In terms of media, Attention Time is an unrivalled signal of ad relevance. Higher Attention Time means higher ad resonance. This is not rocket science at all; I love travelling and will spend more time looking at a travel credit card ad - my Attention Time for that ad is high. I’m not particularly interested in Cryptocurrencies, and would likely scroll away from a Crypto ad - Attention Time would be low. 

With that same logic, when you optimise towards higher Attention Time, you are optimising towards placements where people find your ads most relevant. Brands are applying this to different targeting strategies to determine which strategy works best for their target audience. With cookies soon to disappear and uncertainty around other cookieless targeting methods, Attention Time presents a highly effective route to better digital advertising without relying on third-party identifiers.

By optimising every single impression, in real-time, to higher Attention Time, not only are you increasing the quality of every impression, you are also minimizing wastage in your advertising spend.

I’ve spoken a lot here about Attention Time, the metric we use here at Playground xyz. We believe it to be the premier attention metric but it’s certainly not the only one and we encourage all of our clients to explore the attention solutions that they believe would work best for them. When you start applying attention measurement and optimisation to your campaigns, make sure to always check the methodology of the technology that you’re using. Just like how different partners have different methodology to measure viewabily, different vendors have different ways of quantifying attention.

Whatever metric or solution you choose to explore, one thing is for sure: the time to do it is now. 

Happy attention-seeking!!