Episode 12

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Ad spend is monumental. The estimation for this year sits at $667 billion and is projected to reach $786.2 billion by 2026. 

The US market alone is estimated at $460 billion. 

In this episode of Game of Attention, we wanted to talk about digital advertising and print advertising. What does attention, engagement, and conversion look like across the two. How can they be integrated for effective omnichannel strategies and is letterbox advertising really making as big of a comeback? 

 Paul Wright, Head of Advertising UK at Uber, joined Gordon Doherty, Head of Client Services (Grocery, FMCG & Loyalty specifically) at Marketreach to consider this topic and share their expertise. 

This is only fragments of an amazing discussion, so please make sure to watch the full episode above or listen on Spotify. Link below! 

Q: Considering the strengths of both traditional and digital advertising methods, what does the ideal media mix look like for a campaign aiming for both broad reach and targeted engagement? 

Paul: I think the right mix is whatever's right for your business. We've embraced digital because our consumers have, and I think that's important, but that doesn't mean to say that there's a lot of other channels out there that don't work. Out-of-home is evolving, TV's evolving. There's still a lot of change going on in those markets, they're still all valid and relevant. It just depends on what your ultimate outcome you want to achieve is. 

Gordon: Your objectives, your audience and your budget will play a huge part in determining the most appropriate mix of channels to reach the end consumer. In this multimedia word, the fragmentation of media, I suppose to the lazy observation is that it's never been easier to reach people, but actually that fragmentation and exposure explosion that we've seen in recent years makes it actually harder than ever to connect with people.   

Q: If your audience isn't hanging out where you're advertising, why are you advertising there? Are you just trend jumping? How do brands get that kind of balance right where they want to stay relevant and where people are but actually listening to the consumer instead of the market? 

Paul: I remember when I was a media buyer, trend jumping is one of those things that happens in this industry probably more than it should do because it's actually driven by FOMO. It's more that you can't possibly not be on X platform, Y platform. When Facebook started becoming quite big and we saw lots of clients coming to us and going, we need to be on Facebook. We're like, hang on a minute. What's your audience? What's your objective? Define your audience, define your target market. Be honest.  

Gordon: Coca Cola recently did an AB test where they found that reallocating budgets to higher attention impression yielding places yielded double digit performance compared to their established mechanism.  

We did a neuroscience study recently where we took brand collateral from all of the participants and the consumers, a couple of hundred consumers were wired with the state-of-the-art technology to alert us to brain patterns and the way the brain performed. What we found was individual participants that had received print messages, direct mail messages were far more likely to recall social media after being at exposure and were 44 % more likely to respond to the output of the social media investment. That multiplier effect is very relevant and context as well.  

Q: What are your thoughts on the evolving role of content quality and viewer engagement across traditional and digital platforms? 

Gordon: We're all familiar with the attention economy. People have been speaking about it from the 50s. In fact, if you go back to the 1800s, people reading newspapers say, oh my God, look at all these adverts. It's getting in the way of my enjoyment of reading this newspaper. People will talk about attention deficit and advertising surplus as a way of saying, look, this is the problem we've got. 

Microsoft has done two studies on attention spans. In 2012, they were talking about the typical human attention span of 15 seconds. When they repeated it in 2020, it had gone down to 12 seconds. Now look, that's a Microsoft study, and it's a study of one organization, but there is something going on in terms of attention spans. There's something that we see in the way people are absorbing advertising from multiple sources at the same time.  

You need the right mix and the right moments to deliver the results.   

Paul: We have quite a powerful ad message because we are basically inserting ads into the Uber ad experience. We're not changing the app, which is critical. Point one, don't change the experience. Ad advertising in a manner that is not it's not interrupted, but it's present, so it works. We're seeing some really high engagement rates, because people don't mind ads if they are contextually in the moment and they have the time and they're relevant.   

The time spent in the ads is averaging globally about 90 seconds. Some of the campaigns we've seen recently about 200 seconds. If you're a solo advertiser in the journey of the Uber journey, the average Uber journey is around 22 to 25 minutes globally is with airport journeys, the advertiser is the only advertiser sits with you all the way through that journey. 

Gordon: A TV ad of 30 second typically pulls 13 .8 seconds, 15 seconds, a 15 second slot, 17 .5, a YouTube app, typically five seconds, Instagram feed 1 .7, Facebook in feed 1 .6, direct mail 108 seconds because it receives four visits. People go back to an average four times.  

Those same studies talk about if you can increase the attention span by a second, you're likely to increase recall by 78% so in your world, Paul, that's an uplift of 141 % in terms of brand recall. To move the dial on purchase intent, the same studies talk about a minimum of five seconds, but to actually shift the dial properly, you need to be over 10 seconds of attention. 

Q: Do you think there's a difference between digital and traditional and how we capture those emotions? Do you think one is better than the other or is it an omni -channel thing? 

Gordon: The premise of traditional and new media doesn't sit easily with me because I think about my daughter, she won't go anywhere near Facebook now. She's 25 and she considers it really, really uncool. 

If I went to an advertising conference, and told them that there is this new channel that's being created that's got 95 % engagement, which delivers 30 % commercial return which is welcomed by consumers, they'd all go crazy and say, what is this new shiny thing that you talk of?  

But it's actually direct mail.  

This thing about a piece of paper that's personalized to you with some type typography and pictography that's relevant to you. So, this new and old thing, I don't know that it's relevant anymore.   

Paul: The odd thing sometimes is where when you're talking to media buying companies about this is they do like to categorize you. We were approached by an agency recently and they said, oh, you're out of home.  

I'm not sure we are out of home because I think that's probably just the wrong definition. Because I don't think you regard people using Facebook or Google in a taxi is out of home, right?  

This is an industry challenge because of the way we are set up. There is a bit of traditional versus digital or this platform versus that platform and that type of thing.  

Q: Looking at the attention metrics, do you believe there's a potential for a resurgence in traditional advertising effectiveness as digital spaces become more crowded? 

Paul: I don't know if it's a resurgence. I think it's just a recognition of the value of each channel. I think the challenge lies in do all advertisers think that way? Well, the answer is no, they don't. And that may be more of the issue because they may just want to just jump on the latest bandwagon because it's there.  

It's hard to get people's attention, right? In a world where you've got multiple screens, you've got lots of distractions, you've got stuff going on around you all over the place. It doesn't really surprise me. I think the important thing is to understand where you can get those moments and how to dive into those because that's when you need it.  

Gordon: You need to add value throughout the funnel from, from the awareness at the top through to the conversion at the bottom. The direct mail channel has traditionally been recognized as something that's great at converting sales because it will tip people over the edge with it with a personalized message. 

The real magic happens when you can maximize your digital assets with the physical options to actually push people to those digital experiences, which is where brands want to play and where they're investing huge sums of money.  

Q: Given that attention is such a key part of everything, have you found it difficult to get buy-in for direct mail and attention, because we sure as hell do. 

Gordon: Oh, for sure. We talk about attention from a channel perspective but there’s also a presentation of the message. When I advise on attention metrics, I ask what's the attention hierarchy? What is the order the consumer needs to see this message? 

Unfortunately for the creators of the world that contrast is the clearest and easiest way. I talk glance scan read. If you don't secure in the first millisecond of exposure, the glance, you will not get the scan and you will not get the read.  

Design is a very difficult area for marketers because everyone wants to engage on it. Everybody in the organization has got an opinion on the design of the message and it's not based on science, on testing. It's just, it's just people's opinion. Sometimes that's a massive barrier to actually moving to a more effective approach. 

Paul: I think on the creative side, it's interesting with the journey proposition we have Uber rides because we're actually the reverse. We encourage people to put color because the predominant Uber app is black and white, right? It stands out, which drives attention that way.  

When you have an attention moment like we do, use the creative to think about how you're going to engage with the audience. Don't just turn up with the same thing that you might've created for YouTube, because it probably won't work. Because you're talking about different context. 

Gordon: Organizations are so risk averse, aren't they? There are so many ways now to get some kind of feedback loop into a new idea. It's all about insight, isn't it? It's that contextual thing, but who is this person? Where are they? What are they doing? and how can I present the thing I do as a means to make their life better or to help them navigate a problem?  


There is so many more insightful points in the full episode which you can; 

Watch above.

Listen on Spotify here. 

What a fantastic chat with these experts, grateful to have learned so much from them about attention, advertising, omnichannel approaches, and consumer first ideology.