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News Plus 11 Oct 2021 - 5 min read

Autobarn e-comm, marketing boss Karl Winther: Four things marketers must get about attention metrics as Nine prepares pilot

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer
Michael Stephenson, Karl Winther, Karen Nelson-Field

“As a marketer, you can’t half-heartedly buy into this. It could mean you end up paying more for less," Bapcor Retail's Karl Winther (centre) says.

Marketers that delay testing and understanding the rapidly advancing field of audience attention to advertising will waste money or fall behind surging rivals, says former Officeworks marketer Karl Winther, now running e-comm and marketing at Autobarn and Autopro retail parent Bapcor. Nine, meanwhile, is scoping for an all-encompassing “proof of concept” attention study. Winther says there are four key lessons marketers need to heed around attention metrics – pronto.

What you need to know:

  • Amplified Intelligence’s attention metric is no longer just for early adopters. Rather, it’s becoming mainstream as brands pile in.
  • Bapcor Retail’s General Manager of Marketing and e-commerce, Karl Winther, says it’s vital to know four key points: Not all audience and advertising reach is equal; attention is not a silver bullet; attention metrics flip efficient media to effective media and; understanding it will save marketers money.
  • Nine’s Chief Sales Officer, Michael Stephenson, told a panel organised by indie media agency Hatched – which has gone all in on attention measurement – that the media company had started a “proof of concept” study with Karen Nelson-Field’s Amplified Intelligence.
  • Stephenson said the TV sector's new total TV audience measurement product called VOZ, was not enough - attention measurement was an additional data layer required to better understand advertising effectiveness.   
  • “What I want to understand is, against a whole range of different metrics, is it ad length, time of day, channel?” Stephenson said. Utopia for him is total TV buying across all screens and platforms with attention as a core measurement.

Pay attention, or pay more

Marketers may end up paying more for less unless they investigate and understand emerging research round advertising attention metrics, says Bapcor's marketing and e-comm boss Karl Winthers. Nine, meanwhile, outlined more details for its plans to start a “proof of concept” project for measuring how attentive TV viewers are to different ads.

Karl Winther, General Manager, Marketing and E-Commerce at Bapcor Retail – owner of the Autobarn and Autopro brands – told a webinar organised by Hatched there were four key points marketers needed to understand about new audience attention measurement tools.

In recent months, four of the six global major ad holding companies have signed deals with Karen Nelson-Field’s Amplified Intelligence, while brands experimenting with the new attentionTRACE metric have seen bumper results.

Not all reach is equal

“The first thing to realise is that not all reach is equal. Just because you’ve got the same share of voice as a competitor, it means diddly squat unless it’s the same attention,” Winther said.

“Rethink those concepts of reach planning, budget setting around (share of voice) as a marketer.”

Nelson-Field told the panel that attention is best viewed as “concentrated awareness”, or the moment a viewer takes notice of an ad. “It’s literally the difference between an ad having the opportunity to be bought or not,” she said. “We have a currency problem.”

It’s not a silver bullet 

Winther's second tip on attention measurement? “It’s not a silver bullet or panacea. It can augment the way we plan, buy and measuring media,” he said. And  attention metrics are beyond the “early adopter” stage, he said. “There can be some competitive advantage if you do this right. Then, it’ll become mass market that everyone’s doing and we’ll find something else that has the competitive advantage,” he said.

“But if you think about it and get on board early, this could be a competitive advantage, overlaying attention. The caveat to that is if you don’t have the right planning approach and objective setting, defining your audience, overlaying attention is – to use an analogy – like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s not going to solve all your issues.”

From efficient to effective media

The third point Winther made about attention metrics for marketers was that it changes the conversation from making efficient media decisions to effectiveness.

“Sometimes we get caught up in efficiency,” he said. “We say ‘we’ve got this much percentage conversion’, as opposed to ‘we got this many people to buy’. A conversion is an efficiency metric, the total amount of people who bought is an effectiveness metric.”

Cars24 is one of the first brands to use Amplified Intelligence’s attentionTRACE platform, via Hatched. The results, Chief Customer Officer Erin Williamson said, outweighed the perceived higher cost of media that commands greater attention - the AFL for a relatively unknown used car sales platform was a potentially expensive risk that paid off using attention-based channel planning. 

“I had high expectations going in, but this has exceeded them. So I think [the AFL Grand Final] was a very smart buy, backed with tools like attentionTRACE to make sure it’s doubly effective,” she said.

“It's not about the cost, it's about the effectiveness. It is to what degree is the consumer firstly aware of the message, but then soaking in the proof points that I want to tell them … And the proof is in the pudding.”

Watch out: you may end up paying more for less

The final point, Winther said, was a warning for marketers: “buyer beware”. “As a marketer, you can’t half-heartedly buy into this. It could mean you end up paying more for less. The conversation has to evolve,” he said. “It’s not quality, not just quantity. I won’t say quality over quantity, because I still believe in the principles of trying to hit as many potential category buyers as possible. But how do I do that in a quality way? I’m not going to sacrifice quality for quantity, but I’m going to overlay it.”

Nine plots attention metric overlay

At its 2022 Upfronts presentation last month, Nine’s Michael Stephenson flagged the network had done a deal with Nelson-Field’s Amplified Intelligence. Nelson-Field said the media company had sent out “a little baby iPod” to an undisclosed number of people. It’s understood the results of the study, due to be completed in 2022, will be available to brands advertising with Nine through its Powered by Nine platform.

On the panel last week, Stephenson gave more detail about the partnership, acknowledging VOZ, the new TV audience measurement service, would not “be enough into the future”.

“We’ve committed to starting a proof-of-concept project with Karen and her team,” he said.

“What I want to understand is, against a whole range of different metrics, is it ad length, time of day, channel?”

Stephenson said the study could tell him whether Nine’s Gem or Go channel, the type of ad, or whether integrating advertising into content drove higher attention levels.

“Is it genre? Is it city? Is it demographic? Is it the length of an ad break? Is it the length of a pod? Is it the frequency? I suspect many of the things we think are true today will probably be true,” Stephenson said.

“The level of attention paid to the NRL Grand Final, as an example, we suspect, is very, very high.

“What I’m ultimately hoping to be able to achieve as a publisher is to create a product and a currency that would allow you to optimise your campaign against attention as a metric. What does Utopia look like? For me it would be a total television world, a combination of live linear TV, live streaming, on demand television, bought using the VOZ database, and optimised using attention as a metric. That to me would be the Utopian position.”

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