Attention metrics in the spotlight as SCA, QMS invests in new research

Both companies claim firsts for bringing attention-based measurement into audio and out-of-home channels

Two attention-based studies across broadcast audio and out-of-home (OOH) advertising have gained the spotlight this week as the industry strives to better understand each channel’s brand impact.

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) today announced initial findings from what it’s claimed as a world-first partnership to test broadcast audio attention globally and how live radio influences brand choice for those tuning in. The feasibility work was undertaken by Professor Karen Nelson-Field’s Amplified Intelligence business in partnership with SCA’s insights division, SCAiQ, and required Dr Nelson-Field to tweak visual media attention metric techniques to measuring sound’s impact.

The pair said initial findings showed broadcast audio commanded high attention, on par with other broadcast mediums, while SCA’s suite of audio performed better than some visual attention counterparts in the digital media space.

The duo said Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and its members have now committed to continuing testing to develop audio attention metrics for broadcast audio and podcasting.

“The attention economy is the new oil for marketers and this world first test of audio attention has the real ability to change the way they look at audio,” SCA CEO, Grant Blackley, said.

“More Australians are listening to more audio across more devices and their ‘audio diet’ continues to grow, with 16.8 million people tuning into audio every week. SCA has a compelling and trusted suite of premium Australian voices that connect and create high attention opportunities for advertisers. An audio attention metric is the missing piece of the puzzle to prove that relationship.

“As an industry leader and innovator, SCA is committed to finding the most robust audio insights for advertisers. As the first audio network to test attention, SCA is pioneering broadcast audio attention and we also look forward to working with the audio industry and CRA in furthering this important work.”

Professor Nelson-Field agreed audio formats could hold an important place in a visually tired society, with the potential to drive solid attention from listeners.

“Our initial feasibility study with SCA established a rigorous methodology for measuring attention for audio, and we are excited to continue our work with them to extract true value from attention insights for their advertisers,” she said.

SCAiQ head of sales insights and campaign strategy, Abi Wallis, said broadcast audio gets brands noticed and thought of in buying situations but had been often not considered in the same attention framework as visual mediums.

“Audio needed to be a part of this important conversation. Preliminary findings from SCAiQ’s study with Amplified Intelligence validates environments we know to be powerful, signalling that broadcast audio attracts focused attention,” Wallis said. “We’re excited that the CRA and our industry partners recognise the importance of getting audio attention into play and will continue this testing as a group.”

Visually attentive

Meanwhile on the visual front, QMS announced this week it’s now partnered up with Amplified Intelligence to bring its attention measurement work to the out-of-home advertising space.

The outdoor media company said it’s joined forces with Amplified Intelligence to conduct the first out-of-home (OOH) attention study of its kind in the world, with results due out later this year.  

QMS said the partnership is all about its focus on accountability, audience understanding and client results that will help drive the global OOH industry into the future. The study aims to explore the relationship attention has in OOH advertising as well as how it relates to memory retention, brand choice and growth.

 “This is a significant development for the OOH industry globally, as we continue on the path to understanding the true power of the medium that will help increase advertiser understanding, confidence and trust in the planning and execution of their campaigns,” QMS chief strategy officer, Christian Zavecz, said.

“There is no question the future of advertising will lean on attention as a more sophisticated and accurate way of evaluating client campaigns and we are excited to drive this initiative forward in the OOH industry through Amplified Intelligence’s proven and accepted methodology.”

Professor Nelson-Field said she was excited to be working with QMS to expand its attention database to the world of OOH for the first time.

“Good attention data is about natural viewing environments and every new environment we collect in strengthens attention as a key metric for advertisers,” she commented. “As the ad industry shifts from traditional reach metrics to those that measure actual human attention, the goal of our study with QMS is to provide planners, buyers and advertisers with powerful and transparent measurement needed to evaluate the value and relative performance of OOH advertising.”

Amplified Intelligence has already been working on an array of attention-based research in the television space. Earlier this year, for example, the business partnered with Seven Network on a major attention measurement project across both its core TV channels as well as BVOD offering, 7plus. Seven said it’s part of the group’s strategic Enhanced Advertiser and Viewer Experience (EAVE) initiative, launched in 2020 and designed to improve the way brands and consumers connect with Seven’s major events and premium content across different platforms. 

The attention work uses eye-tracking technology and machine learning models in order to measure attention generated by ads and content and is being conducted at different timeslots, ad formats and programs.

As reported in CMO’s top digital marketing predictions for 2022, the rise of attention-based metrics was highlighted as a key area of focus this year, driven by the need to find alternative ways of measuring advertising not only to cope with the demise of cookie-based tracking, but also to come up with more privacy-friendly solutions to understanding audience engagement.

But in her recent blog post for CMO, Zenith's Nickie Scriven raised concerns about being too driven by attention metrics and not thinking about the broader brand picture.

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