Why marketers should pay more attention to creativity

Published by

There has been much focus on attention in the digital ad industry in the past few years, ever since advertisers realised that viewability wasn’t up to scratch as a metric. While the preoccupation with attention has definitely helped to drive an increase in the quality of digital advertising and creative, our obsession with attention as a metric is not without its downside.

The reality is that making “absolute attention” the main objective of a campaign shouldn’t be the primary goal for brands and marketers. With attention entering its maturity phase within our industry, we’re likely to see an increase in bad actors piggybacking the hype and gaming the system to drive attention at any cost.

It’s vital that marketers look beyond absolute attention levels and consider whether the creative and formats they’re using are capturing attention for the right reasons, to drive real brand impact. For example, a pop-up will draw attention, but it’s not going to be good for brand building or sales.

According to Dom Tillson, Marketing Director at Azerion, to help drive better results and create stronger campaigns, marketers need to look beyond the immediate attention stats to consider three key areas:

1. The quality of attention

We have found through our own research that the quality of attention seems to vary depending on where a brand is in its lifecycle. For example, younger brands win more attention with higher-impact formats. On the other hand, if you’re an established brand you could potentially produce lower-impact campaigns and creatives if you have very distinctive brand assets.

2. How effective attention measurement can help you optimise campaign performance

You need to clearly understand what the different creative drivers are for attention, but then you need to be able to look beyond that and see how that attention is really impacting in terms of harder metrics like brand recall.

3. Consider the impact of the observer effect

Most attention measurement is panel-based forced exposure “in a lab” environment. By working with Lumen’s LAMP tag and tracking attention across live campaigns, we found that in the real world, high-impact formats can drive upwards of 75% more attention in real life, because of a more natural browsing behaviour. In comparison, standard formats deliver less attention in the real world, delivering on average 90% less attention compared to those delivered “in the lab”, where panellists are more primed to be attentive.   

The creative conundrum


To highlight how this works in practice with a real-world example, Karl Lagerfeld optimised its S/S 2022 campaign towards quality attention. When you work for media agencies it seems obvious that the focus for ads should not just be the creative but also CTAs, formats, specs, metrics, and attention. But for client-side creatives, it’s about the brand, the creative concepts, visual identities, how the consumer feels, and whether the colour scheme is right.

This juxtaposition can sometimes create a tension between the two parties. What Karl Lagerfeld wanted was to blend these two sides to demonstrate that there are multiple factors beyond the artistry that makes creative ads stand out, to ensure the attention is qualitative.

The initial campaign was simple, blended, and minimalist, it was the first skin the creative team had done and it was visually impactful. The results however didn’t quite live up to our high expectations. The challenge we faced was how to work with them to help turn beautiful visual assets into successful digital adverts.

For the second campaign, a string of new elements were introduced based on the feedback and learnings from the Lumen report and our own key insights. It was clear that we needed to think beyond simply driving top-level attention. While obviously staying true to the brand’s design principles they added bolder colours, more prominent figures (in this case Amber Valletta), a strong call to action that was always visible, image variations, and hotspots.

The results saw a 35% lift in attention and allowed us to clearly demonstrate the impact of these different, less creative, elements to the in-house creative team. It also showed them how they could think more dynamically about creative, to improve the way they think about the user experience and develop better ads in the future.

The key takeaway for marketers here is that more in-depth attention analysis can help drive creative best practice and performance. Effective digital advertising is not just about creating top-level brand awareness, it's driving action across the entire funnel, this understanding and approach helps brands to truly optimise their ads to drive positive perception and greater return on investment.

Header image by Daniel Doebner


More Industry



The top 10 tips to creating award entries that win!

Putting together an awards entry takes a bit of science and a slice of art. We've compiled this Top 10 list from previous judges and winners to give you knowledge on how to create the perfect submission. 1. Tell a Story An effective way to have...

Posted by: Creativepool


The Pursuit of Meaningful Innovation for Luxury Brands

Everyone’s (us included) favourite buzzword: innovation. Even the most iconic luxury brands can get it wrong. Whether it’s too safe or trend-chasing, thoughtless innovation can devalue a brand to the point of no return. Ensure that...

Posted by: Matter Of Form


A new kind of storytelling: harnessing immersive AR in the Metaverse

There are multiple factors behind any paradigm shift, but consumer behaviour is arguably one of the biggest for marketing. When audience habits and mindsets change, so too must the way marketers consider and approach their communications. As demand...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial
ad: Annual 2023 Submissions Now Open