Since 1961, the ARF’s Media Model has emphasized attention as the crucial bridge between advertising delivery and effectiveness. This is also true of the soon to be released 2023 model. As a complex psychological phenomenon, attention has been studied by researchers for centuries. Yet, there is no single definition of attention which is universally accepted. However, it is generally understood to be the process of selecting and focusing on a particular stimulus or task. Traditional measures of ad attention have, up until now, relied on retrospective recall or verbal reactions to ad creative. This results in a limited integration of attention metrics in campaign planning.
The ARF defined attention as: “the degree to which those exposed to the advertising are focused on it— ranging from a very brief exposure (or ‘scan’) that is likely to leave very little memory trace, to intense focus with cognitive and emotional engagement that can lead to enduring recall and impact attitudes and behavior—both positively and negatively.”
Today, the landscape has radically changed. Advancements in biometrics, neuroscience, eye-tracking “in the wild” and the use of AI to analyze responses to digital media, have sparked an increasing interest in attention metrics for use in creative development and media evaluation. This has led to a thriving market with new companies and services vying for a share of the expanding industry.
Nevertheless, a common definition of “attention” remains elusive. How attention works in terms of the absorption of advertising, and whether heightened attention is always warranted, or if levels of low attention might be beneficial in certain cases, are elements that need further investigation. Additionally, the measurable properties of attention and the specific mechanisms through which attention influences consumer choices and opinions are not yet clearly defined.
To gain greater context on the history of attention research and attention measurement, read the full report: The Attention Measurement Validation Initiative: Literature Review.
ARF members now have the unique opportunity to participate by submitting their advertising creative for analysis. Three levels of results are available. Learn how to participate on the project’s webpage.