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Attention Is Internet Currency

Christian Betlyon
Christian Betlyon Director of Strategy & Digital Services

Every day there are countless pieces of content seeking our attention in social newsfeeds, on digital radio stations, podcasts, YouTube channels – you name it. We pay attention to the content that interests us, adds value to our lives or taps into a current emotional state. In essence, we give attention in exchange for content. To some, that means foodie grams and cat memes, others it’s political pontification on Facebook or Fantasy Football blogs. Content takes on all shapes, sizes and formats, but capturing attention is the underlying objective of every single piece.

As digital marketers, our job is to vie for that consumer attention by developing content that taps into the interests of target customer segments and disseminating it on platforms in the most cost-effective manner possible. We get the most out of budgets by strategizing on content/targeting, executing on amplification/optimization and working to hit objectives at multiple stages of the customer acquisition funnel (awareness, engagement, intent, conversion). Selecting where that budget gets allocated is difficult because every tactic receives some level of attention, and every tactic has a cost that’s either:

  1. Overpriced
  2. Underpriced
  3. Just right!

The marketplace of consumer attention shifts so rapidly that costs to advertise are always a step behind, and therein lies opportunity. Brands and businesses have all seen past success with their marketing mix, and continuing with the same tactics may result in a predictable return. However, identifying and capitalizing on underpriced tactics can mean the difference between a 2x ROAS and a 10x ROAS. Savvy digital marketers have to become obsessed with finding opportunities that are underpriced, but not at the expense of underperformance.

How do we identify media and advertising tactics that are underpriced?

When we discuss consumer attention with clients, we often hit on how we identify media that is underpriced. To make it as simple as possible, we measure the efficiency and effectiveness (the cost of attention).

  • The most basic metric in digital advertising to measure efficiency is Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM). We also consider viewability metrics, as media tactics can’t always be compared apples to apples. Comparing the cost for viewable impressions is the goal.
  • We measure the effectiveness (consumer attention) through result rate metrics at the Engagement level of the customer acquisition funnel. These include engagement, usage, video view and dwell time.

Whether you are in the planning or evaluation stage of an upcoming or in-market campaign, how you attribute and align attention is vital. We utilize a 6 Phase Implementation Process to provide value to our clients on defining campaign missions and identifying desired outcomes and customer segments, including Cost per Acquisition (CPA) or Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).

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