Attraction not distraction: Successful advertising is about the exit, not the entrance

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How do you capture a potential customer’s attention at exactly the right moment?

In a world where so much is demanding our attention – to the point where it even has a name – the attention economy – finding the right moment for a brand to call out to a consumer, without interrupting their primary focus, is the holy grail of the digital ads world.

Fortunately, as Pavlos Linos, CEO of AI-based ad agency Exit Bee, explains, technology may have found a pool of opportunity to market in the most fleeting of moments…

pavlos linos exit bee
Pavlos Linos, CEO, Exit Bee

The current digital advertising approach is broken. It’s built around interrupting people at a time when they’re trying to focus on something of interest to them – catching up on the news, reading about their team or researching their next flight. 

And by attempting to distract them from their primary purpose, advertising becomes nothing more than an annoyance, at best mildly irritating and, at worst, driving them to download an ad blocker.

But it shouldn’t be like this. Digital advertising must shift from distraction to attraction. 

This requires marketers to rethink their approach – instead of disturbing users when they’re concentrating elsewhere, look to engage with them when their attention isn’t occupied, and they’re open to new experiences. 

Timing is everything 

This all comes down to timing. Today, everything competes to take up part of our time, from social media to technology, friends,  family and colleagues. 

For brands, the opportunities to attract attention occur as someone disengages from one activity and before they’ve started the next one. 

attraction not distraction - Image by Robert Cheaib from Pixabay
Attraction economy: How brands can capture our attention at the right moment in the digital world.

This golden time is when consumers’ attention isn’t fixed on a specific activity, so their mind is open, allowing brands to communicate without needing to distract them.

During these micro-moments – the name we give to the brief periods of time during which a user’s attention becomes available – people are at their most receptive to receiving and considering messages. 

Targeting those moments allows advertisers to deliver more effective, impactful advertising.

And micro-moments, while short, can be numerous throughout the day, from leaving one website and going to another, to the few minutes between ending a call and heading into the next engagement.

Recognising micro-moments

So how do we pinpoint these micro-moments? Unsurprisingly, it comes down to technology. Machine learning can recognise behaviours and patterns that signal an activity is ending, so these unplanned online moments can be predicted.

On a desktop, this might simply be a user scrolling to the end of an article but, more often, the signal comes from mouse activity. When an individual is engaged by content, this is slow and smooth. 

But when they decide it’s time to move on to their next journey, this changes. The acceleration, velocity and direction indicate that the user is in-between two journeys – and there’s a micro-moment in which to engage with them before they embark on their next activity. 

micro moments - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Micro-moments: Linos says brands need to focus on the tiny moments when consumers are open to ads.

On a mobile, it’s similar, but with different data signals, like tapping, scrolling, switching tabs or apps and others that indicate the activity is ending, and the opportunity is available to target this micro-moment.

Once the moment is identified, an appropriate contextual ad can be served, with technology scanning the content, understanding what’s been read and what hasn’t, to provide indicators that inform and target the creative. 

And by using contextual targeting, brands are assured of the cookie-free, future-proof approach they need today.

The results of targeting micro-moments speak for themselves. Because users are not distracted, brands are achieving viewability rates over 85%, engagement rates up to twenty times (20x) higher than traditional display formats, and a 100% share of voice.

New environments need new formats

While timing is critical, delivering impactful, memorable creatives is also a key success factor for effective advertising. 

But time and time again, when new environments have emerged, the tendency has been to take a format from one medium and shoehorn it into the new one. 

This simply limits the ability of the advertising to deliver to its full potential.

Because micro-moment-targeted advertising is delivered as the user exits a website, the creative doesn’t sit within the content, so it isn’t restricted by the website elements. 

Exit not the entry - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Focus on the exit: Brands should identify the micro-moments.

This means richer, more impactful, engaging and unique formats can be used, exposing brands to new opportunities to interact with their audience. 

To be effective, brands must ditch standard advertising format thinking and go beyond the current boundaries of display advertising. 

They also need to be direct with the messaging because they already have the users’ attention.

Just like in comedy, successful advertising is all about timing. And in cluttered, noisy digital advertising environments, getting this right is not about the entrance but the exit. 

Instead of attempting to influence people when they’re inattentive and concentrating elsewhere, gaining their attention is easier and more effective when they’re disengaged from any activity.

This is what makes non-interruptive micro-moments so powerful. 

In adopting this targeting strategy, brands can drive greater engagement, while also gaining consumer appreciation by taking a more considerate approach to communicating with them.