6 April 2023

One year on, should you still give attention your attention?

One of the hottest points of discussion in paid media last year was the emergence of attention as measurement of ad effectiveness. Where viewability was once the gold standard, attention measures whether a brand is truly being seen. Head of Programmatic, Stefan Kurkic, addresses the impact of attention-based advertising while taking into account new tech and partners.

Why are we still talking about attention

There are two fascinating stats that have captivated me and pushed me down the attention rabbit hole. I hope that they will challenge and excite readers to do their own digging:

  1. According to Playground XYZ the standard attention time for an MPU is 0.5 seconds. Within the blink of an eye the most popular ad unit size is out of sight for most web users.
  2. A study from Adnami found that for every second of attention time an ad generate, the brand receives 3 days of ad memory

From those stats alone, we are justified in keeping attention-based advertising at the forefront of our minds. It also highlights the need to question media owners further when they highlight mass reach at 80 - 90% viewability and mass reach as success.

The broader question is whether added attention leads to tangible outcomes. Research from Adelaide Metrics says yes, with evidence of correlations between attention, and conversion rates and traffic-to-site.

Is attention focused advertising good for the environment?

Reducing the carbon emissions of advertising is firmly in the spotlight in 2023 and beyond. This is especially relevant given that 1 million impressions emit approximately 1 metric ton of CO2e (if 1 impression = 1g of CO2e). Research from Scope3 has identified that digital advertising as an industry contributes the equivalent of flying 1.35 million passengers from London to Paris each year.

With that in mind, ensuring more impressions are optimised toward does in fact help reduce emissions from your campaign. A recent work by Playground has found that by optimising towards minimum levels of attention and omitting domains that represent the highest emissions, emissions can be reduced by approximately 60% without compromising media effectiveness.

By optimising towards attention time unnecessary emissions from ads that are supposedly viewable are mitigated.


Attention is still the cool kid on the block with the potential to make campaigns more effective, but recent insights also point to the role of attention in sustainability. This begs the following questions:

  • Measurement: With so many different partners now in the space – how do we know who to use, and should use for panel-based information or eye-tracking?
  • Are there any hidden costs to optimising attention towards attention?

mSix&Partners is currently developing a partner-agnostic route to measuring attention in media by leveraging the tech offerings of various partners. Once the most robust partners from attention perspective have been assessed, GroupM’s Carbon Calculator can be used to stress-test these selections and quantify emissions at a channel level. The capabilities of this calculator continue to improve as emissions data from our partners becomes available.