How advertisers can navigate the attention economy to help customers discover new brands

The attention economy refers to the way humans manage the wealth of information at their disposal, referencing the competition for our eyes and ears as attention becomes an increasingly scarce commodity. Read on to discover how Amazon Ads and dentsu have come together to help brands navigate this increasingly complex space.

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What is the attention economy?

The term attention economy refers to the way humans are able to manage the wealth of information at their disposal. In 1971, economist and Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, who coined the term, wrote, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”1

With so many sources of content prevalent in our daily lives, the attention economy reflects the multimedia competition for eyes and ears as attention becomes an increasingly scarce commodity.

Why does the attention economy matter for advertisers?

With attention in short supply, understanding the attention economy is important in advertising because it challenges how media is currently bought, by valuing ads actually seen and heard over ad impressions simply bought or served.

Navigating the attention economy

Whether it’s with the latest news, listening to music, or streaming entertainment, consumers are always trying to stay connected throughout their day across multiple devices. Technology has reshaped the way we consume content, and as a result, our attention has never been spread so thin.2 This has posed a challenge for advertisers as they work to connect with audiences across these fragmented touchpoints.

“With so much content vying to earn audiences’ attention, how can brands be confident that their desired customers are really noticing and engaging with the ads they’re serving? This is a dilemma that dentsu’s Attention Economy team is on a mission to solve,” notes Kelsey Tyson, VP of global partnerships at dentsu. “Together with our clients and partners like Amazon Ads, our market-leading Attention Economy offering seeks to better understand these industry challenges, to help find better ways to maximize audience engagement and connection.”

To help brands ensure that their ads stand out in a highly competitive multimedia space, dentsu and third-party research firm Lumen have conducted an ambitious analysis into the attention economy across digital and social media with the goal of better understanding audience attention and how to maximize it and, in turn, develop better industry standards for buying media. This year, dentsu worked with Amazon Ads to expand their work for the first time into streaming media, conducting three joint studies involving over 1,000 ads from 76 brands, across Amazon-owned streaming properties Twitch, Amazon Freevee, and Amazon Music.

This work illuminates how brands can connect with audiences across Amazon streaming properties and the relationship between higher attention and brand impact. Recently at unBoxed 2023, Joanne Leong, global head of planning at dentsu and Lisa Kim from Amazon Ads took the stage to discuss these insights in depth. Read on to explore some of the highlights of that discussion.

3 ways to navigate the attention economy

Break through with content that audiences love

Whether audiences are watching or listening, Amazon streaming media is an important part of their entertainment routine.

Our ad-supported solutions give businesses of all sizes a way to stay top of mind with streaming audiences. Ads on Twitch, Amazon Freevee, and Amazon Music generated higher viewing and listening time compared to attention norms of other media, which encompass a mix of digital media and TV norms.

Ad attention levels compared to attention norms

Amazon streaming media effectively drove attention for brands above benchmarks, with Amazon Freevee generating 3x attention compared to linear TV attention norms, and Amazon Music and Twitch generating 2.6x and 2x attention compared to previous dentsu attention norms, respectively.

This suggests that premium, audience-relevant content is more likely to keep them tuned in, even during a brief ad break. Brands should therefore consider telling their brand story alongside this content to benefit from that higher viewer or listener attention. Learn more about how to start building awareness on Twitch, Amazon Freevee, and Amazon Music.

Make your brand story memorable

The level of attention an ad receives matters in driving key, top-of-funnel brand metrics. The more attention an ad receives, the greater the lifts in brand recall.

When customers can recall a brand easily, it can help that brand’s messaging stand out from the noise while helping customers build a stronger, more positive relationship with your brand. Ads on these three streaming mediums drove higher brand recall compared to attention norms of other media.

Brand recall compared to attention norms

While we found that even standard ads can effectively drive this brand lift, Amazon Ads can also help create even more memorable brand moments with bespoke, innovative ad formats to help draw viewers and listeners across content.

These include Twitch custom ads, which are built to fit not just the brand message but also surrounding content themes, as well as interactive video and audio ads. Not only are these ad formats shown to drive higher consideration and purchase intent compared to standard ad creatives;3 but they also help make for a less disruptive, more enjoyable experience for the viewer.

Create relationships that last

Attention levels also impact lifts in brand choice. In this study, we define brand choice as the likelihood of choosing the brand as a result of viewing or listening to the ads. Similar to brand recall, we saw that the greater attention an ad receives, the higher the “choice uplift.”

When we look at these three streaming mediums, we see that brand choice increased among Twitch and Amazon Music after the first exposure of the ad, while brand choice on Amazon Freevee increased after respondents were exposed for the second time. This finding suggests that frequency also matters. So, when considering that “frequency” sweet spot, running an ad message a couple of times can pay off before ad fatigue sets in.

Brand choice compared to attention norms

When customers choose the brand, there is a greater likelihood a brand can help customers move down the marketing funnel.

To keep customers coming back, brands can also consider adding engaging Amazon Ads ad formats, serving as a helpful part of the customer journey by connecting with relevant audiences during popular shopping moments. Learn about the ways to drive customer loyalty.

Keep the attention going

Attention may be more fractured than ever, but Amazon Ads and dentsu’s streaming media attention research shows that there are steps that brands can take to keep audiences coming back. Brands can drive engagement and maximize impact through tactics like aligning with the premium streaming content that customers already love, considering immersive ad formats, and playing with levers like ad frequency.

If you have limited experience, contact us to request services managed by Amazon Ads. Budget minimums apply.

Attention Economy research (Amazon Ads, Lumen Research, dentsu); 1. Freevee, US, Aug 2022; N=150 respondents; 2. Twitch, UK, US, Dec 2022; N=600 respondents; 3. Amazon Music, Alexa Music, US, Feb 2022; N = 600 respondents, dentsu AE Norms and US TVision Norms, 2022.
1. “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” in Martin Greenberger (ed.) Computers, Communications, and the Public Interest (1971)
2. sadrmrk
3. Kantar Brand Lift Study, US, Q1 2022–Q1 2023; N=16 Interactive Video Ads campaigns with interactive ads and N=211 video campaigns without interactive ads. Statistical testing at 80% minimum confidence (p<0.2). Analysis contains low sample size and does not guarantee future results.