Track and capture: Getting started with attention metrics

At the heart of all advertising lies the ultimate goal: Cut through the noise and capture a potential consumer’s interest long enough for them to make a connection with the brand.

There is no single factor that determines the best possible bidding tactics for your advertising campaigns or that capturing consumer attention is analogous. There are myriad, dynamic elements needed for a consumer to interact with your brand. Viewability is no longer enough, and “attention metrics” are becoming increasingly popular in the industry.

Attention metrics are an evolution of engagement. As attention metrics tracked today are nascent, some healthy industry debate has emerged in the quest to refine and define what attention measurement should look like.

As attention metrics and measurement continue to mature, brands can learn more, develop a plan aligned with key business outcomes, start optimizing for attention, and kick-off their targeting and measurement tactics to capture consumer attention.

Defining attention metrics

Businesses should find an attention metric that resonates with the business outcomes they’re driving and incorporate that into their marketing KPIs.

Attention metrics can be measured through not only viewability or in-view duration, but the evaluation of any combination of the following: creative size and interaction, ad position, time of day, publisher/program, audibility, page clutter, frequency across devices and eye tracking. Attention metrics can provide a high-resolution view of the impact of each impression or be evaluated in aggregate.

While viewability remains an important baseline metric, it only represents the measure of an opportunity for an ad to be seen and says little or nothing about whether a viewer saw an ad. Attention, on the other hand, is a measure based on the actual viewing of ads.

At MediaMath, we “group” inventory into marketplaces designed to achieve a specific campaign goal, run on a specific channel (CTV, native or in-game) or meet specific criteria. For example, the Viewable Marketplace only contains inventory that delivers a high viewability score. Viewability numbers on the attention market vastly outperform market averages at 91% viewability (averages tend to be 60%-70%, while our viewability market averages ~80%).

Attention itself can further be divided into what might be considered proxy metrics for attention and direct measures of human attention. Proxy metrics are measures of detected engagement activity on a device that implies attention, whereas direct measures involve the direct measurement of people paying attention to screens via visual tracking, typically through opt-in panels. Both measures are useful, but it is important to understand the difference when exploring vendor offerings and methodologies while assessing outcomes.

Why attention metrics

Attention metrics are available across multiple channels, but the industry has yet to decide on a universal metric that is applicable across all channels. This is why there are different approaches being used by different parties as per the varying examples given by companies that offer attention metrics described in the POV.

Here are some examples of various terms used in the industry by different vendors. If these terms are KPIs used when evaluating attention in conjunction with one another, any combination of these terms can be used:

  • Active attention seconds: The number of seconds eyes were looking directly at an ad.
  • Active attention percentage of ad length: The proportion of active attention relative to ad length.
  • Passive attention: The number of seconds eyes were nearby — e.g., looking at a mobile screen while in the room with a TV ad.
  • Total attention: The sum of active and passive attention seconds.
  • Attention quality: A predictor of the likelihood to be viewable or invalid given based on that page- or session-measurement data collected through the Moat analytics platform.

As with any new technology, consistency is key. Businesses need to find an attention metric that resonates with the business outcomes they’re driving and incorporate that into their marketing KPIs. Studies suggest that higher attention drives advertising outcomes that brands care about, such as ROI. Attention can also drive brand awareness by enhancing recall.

When building a marketing strategy that measures attention from a campaign, consider these four main components: planning, targeting, optimizing and measuring.


Forecasting typically involves inputs like target audience attributes, geographies of the audiences being targeted and what type of creative(s) might be used.

This produces an estimate of reach, usually represented by impressions, unique consumers and target bid amounts (CPM). As attention metrics gain industry adoption, they will be incorporated into forecasting inputs, like viewability targeting has, and outputs (e.g., cost of a CPM).


Depending on the attention metric, there may be suitable proxies available today from bid enrichment specialists like DoubleVerify and Oracle for targeting in ad platforms. Additionally, targeting parameters like ad position, player audibility and even app/domain allow- and block-lists can be leveraged to filter ad opportunities to avoid attention-dark ad experiences.

Like with planning, as attention metrics gain industry adoption, they will be incorporated into new or existing targeting solutions.


With targeting comes the opportunity for optimization. As the attention metric discussion in the industry becomes the new standard and evolves, brands can optimize post-delivery using what they’ve learned from campaigns to adjust fold position, app/domain lists, viewability, audibility and even frequency to maximize attention.

Brands should consider several components of attention, automating a portion of the task of optimizing for attention, including:

  • Exchange viewability, included within the bid request as part of the metric object to offer insight into the available ad opportunity.
  • Fold position, aka ad position, included within the bid request to indicate the position of the ad.
  • Time of day. For instance, whether the ad opportunity is available in the consumer’s time zone.
  • Historical interactions like completed video views and clicks on content.


Measuring attention is the first step toward truly measuring the effectiveness of ads and understanding what attention measurement is possible and which attention metrics are best at achieving your brands’ key business outcomes. Companies like Adelaide, Amplified Intelligence, DoubleVerify, Lumen, Oracle/Moat, and TVision offer several tag-based measurement solutions that can be used to measure attention and a proxy for attention.

Attention “proxy” metrics can generally be measured in environments where you can get JavaScript on a device and measure the user’s engagement activity.

Eye-tracking requires access to cameras to measure and consented panels of viewers from which to gather data. Studying attention directly is therefore easier with devices like laptops or mobile phones with built-in cameras. It can also be done via camera devices mounted with CTVs (e.g., TVision’s approach), but this has a more limited user base from which to derive measurement given the technical needs.

Measurement based on actual attention data gathered by eye-tracking is also used in a hybrid way. This involves some JavaScript-based measurement to gather data points, which are then analyzed for qualities that are predictive of attention. Since actual attention measurement by eye-tracking is a panel-based, data-gathering approach, its results must be correlated to data points that can be gathered more widely.

Flex your creative intelligence. Creative fatigue happens, but consumer sentiment and content consumption change over time, too. Evaluate aspects of media like page clutter and ad format, which can inform attention, holding creative and audience targeting constants. It’s a wasted opportunity if you have both the advertising dollars and eyeballs but are getting hindered by clutter.