The case of Attention
While marketers, industry bodies and academia might have differing views on how to define and measure attention, there is one thing they all agree on and that is Attention is becoming scarce in a world where information and hence, impressions are seemingly becoming infinite. With each consumer being exposed to thousands of ads, it has become increasingly important to define ‘exposure’ from a person point of view, ie, an actual eyeball on screen when an ad is running, rather than based on ad delivery on a device.
The reason why everyone is so interested in attention is because there is increasingly more evidence that attention drives outcomes, whether it is short term sales or long-term brand equity, or, in other words, propensity to be thought of during purchase occasions. Hence, it has become a critical dimension in creative and media strategy for agencies to delve into.
To this end, Snapchat partnered with OMD to explore the impact of Attention being paid to advertising on brand outcomes, through dedicated consumer research with Amplified Intelligence. Research was carried out among ~2900 consumers in 5 markets (US, CA, UK, DE, AU), covering over 40+ different creatives. In this study, we measured 3 key metrics - Active Attention (eye on screen And on ad), Short term lift (Sales) and Long-term lift (Brand equity). The findings from this research validated certain hypotheses but also revealed interesting insights into the role platform plays in driving attention and other factors that impact attention.
Platform is one of the biggest drivers for consumers paying attention to ads, as per analysis by Amplified Intelligence. This was proven beyond a doubt in this research. Consumers paid 2X* more active attention to ads on Snapchat than category benchmark, where the category is defined as full screen vertical videos.
This high attention translates topositive lift in both short-term sales impact (109 vs. 100 index) and long-term equity impact on brand (by 1.9%) - something that is not commonly seen in platforms as they tend to do well on either driving sales or long-term brand building
Snapchat already had the advantage in the attention game, as one of the first platforms to introduce full screen video ads, an innovative format that has now become widely adopted. The personal nature of the platform where interaction is mainly with close friends and family takes it one step further, by helping to create a positive halo on brands and higher receptivity for ads. The highly relevant and premium partnered content on the Stories tab in the app also likely reduces the need to skip ads, making Snapchat an effective and efficient platform for attention-driven impact.
Attention rewrites rules of ad length and skippability
One of the interesting insights the study revealed is on ad length. It is clear that you do not need 30 seconds or even 15 seconds to grab attention and make an impact. Attention is high and inelastic for Snapchatters for up to 8 seconds and the sweet spot for driving both short and long term lift seem to be shorter length. This has implications for advertisers in terms of their creative strategy and planning for shorter ads than the typical 15 seconds.
The other finding that was found to be very insightful is that skippability did not deter attention. Active attention paid to both Commercials (non-skippable ads) and Snap ads (skippable ads) was higher than benchmark, though expectedly Active Attention is shorter for Snap ads than Commercials. Likewise, both Commercials and Snap ads have the ability to drive long and short term impact, with Snap ads impacting short-term more. Marketers need to deploy a mix of video ad formats to achieve both short and long term marketing objectives.
Busting the myth on Gen Z
It is commonly theorized that younger generations pay less attention. Marketers know that as digital natives, getting Gen Z’s attention has become harder. Findings from this study did prove that at an overall level, Gen Z paid less attention to ads. However, upon digging deeper into how generations paid attention second-by-second, it was revealed that Gen Z paid more attention in the first 8 seconds than other 2 generations.
Those 8 seconds were enough to create 1.3X more lift among Gen Z compared to all users on long term brand potential. This increased propensity to choose the brand during a future purchase occasion is going to be crucial to tap into the purchasing power of Gen Z in coming years.
Purpose messaging can land with short form video
This study also evaluated whether the impact of different types of messaging, like purpose driven vs. not, varied. While attention was high for both purpose and non-purpose messaging, Commercials with purpose messaging are able to deliver 1.2X time more long-term lift for brands. And they were able to do so with only 6 seconds of active attention. When these purpose-driven ads were built for Snapchat, the active attention was 1.4X higher than the ads repurposed from other platforms. This challenges a bit of conventional belief that long-form video is better suited for purpose messaging, while in fact, in a personally relevant platform like Snapchat, it is possible to successfully deliver brand purpose messaging to consumers.
Don’t forget the art with the science
In every market that this experiment was carried out, Snapchat exceeded benchmarks on active attention. However, the short and long term impact varied across markets and brands. This is because one still needs to keep in mind cultural relevance and local nuances while developing creative - including use of relevant celebrities, local language voice vs. subtitles, and featuring relevant products. Attention is positive only as long as it is underpinned by a strong creative strategy.
Attention is a powerful metric to consider when thinking about brand building and sales outcomes. This study revealed a few best practices to keep in mind to drive not only high attention but also positive impact. The first is to consider the right platform like Snapchat, which with its personal network and premium content, provides an ideal vehicle for brands to get consumers to pay attention to their ads. On Snapchat, use a mix of Snap ads and Commercials and keep the creative short (6-8 seconds) to get the maximum impact efficiently. Don’t underestimate Gen Z’s attention span, as those initial seconds are very impactful and can be used to build brand equity that brands can tap into in the future. Consider using Public Profiles as a way for them to know more about brands quickly. Adapt your creative strategy to reflect attention goals - purpose messaging can be short and sweet especially if built for platform and ads to be localized to improve cultural relevance.
For video best practices on Snapchat, check out this link.