CPA (Cost Per Attention)

Hey! Excuse me. May I have a moment of your time?

This piece talks briefly about attention, not necessarily how to get it but once you have it, the importance of using and caring for it in the most considered way. The concept is not a new idea but an initial intention that has seemed to have gotten lost in the accelerated growth of the advertisement industry in recent years. What was once a billboard in a street is now a digital image in a whole different kind of marketplace. Counting footfall now doesn’t involve feet at all. Alongside this expansion, the pace of life has been speeding up. Today, cybermetrics are the bearing in which we map out performance, strategy, and optimizations. Some of which encapsulate consumers’ time; CPM, CPV, CPCV. These give us figures of how much we are willing to spend for a piece of someone’s time. And now that we have purchased this moment from a potential customer, what are we going to do with it? 

“Win a zero seconds” – Facebook Representative

A phase batted around by platforms like it makes sense but it is the ideology to capture a viewer’s attention from the very beginning. In video media, we may hear this referred to as a “front-loading”. Traditional story arcs of film trilogies draw out the detail leaving us on tenterhooks holding out for more, building to a climax and dropping to a resolution. Whereas the Front-loaded or Emerging story arc hits the ground running to a short peak where it delivers the majority of the message in the first few seconds.

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 Traditional Story Arcs        
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Emerging Story Arcs 

Too many people talk about how to get attention for all the tricks, tips and thumbnails.

People put the onus on grabbing and bating people’s time but then the conversation seems to stop. In PPC, after the placement has been bought, we need to convert that time into active attention. The difference between hearing and listening, looking and watching.

“Waste not, want not” – Unknown Origin

At our disposal, there are plenty of strategies and systems to target the right people. As opposed to getting mass attention very cheaply and efficiently, we should be focusing more on the value of that attention and we need to use it wisely. When attention is not used effectively, it’s wasted for both the company and the consumer.

In the 21st century, society has unfortunately bred us on the idea of mass production, with perceived benefits of ease, convenience, and cost-effectiveness while simultaneously replacing the skill and quality of tradesmanship. Take fishing as an example. Large scale industrial fishing often uses huge weighted nets, dragged along the seabed, catching any and all fish in its path (Also, destroying reefs and marine ecosystems at the same time but that is an argument for another article). While this results in a big pool of fish, only a very small portion of what is captured will be the intended target. On the other hand, skilled, local fishermen often use line fishing as a method for catching a particular fish. Hooks are thrown out in the best locations, at the right time and are baited with the target species’ favorite food, until hopefully, many of these specific species are on the line. This results in smaller quantities of fish caught at the end of the day, but the fish that are caught are exactly what was desired, with little repercussions in the process. 

We view the rising impression frequency of an ad as a negative thing. Multiple impressions of the same consumer resulting in no action can weaken brand perception. But why don’t we translate that down to the length of a single impression? If we can best value the attention of one consumer, refining the message we want to communicate, then we shorten and solidify that customer journey from the first touchpoint.

“I apologize for such a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one.” – Mark Twain

To personify this, we remember the quote and not the speech, we hold on to the punchline and not the setup. We, as the advertisers, need to put in the effort to construct, to reduce the work of consumers. Surely, the goal is to have a message, an image, an advert that resonates quickly and widely. It’s no secret that people’s attention span is shortening and so with it, our retention is lowering. And therefore, as this trend continues, we too need to respect and reevaluate our appreciation of attention.


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