Attention Impressions: Facebook’s Innovative (Beta) Measurement Feature

Mobile Facebook AppFacebook is constantly innovating ways to add value as an advertising platform, and its new measurement feature—called Attention Impressions— is a breakthrough. Attention Impressions gives us a window onto a part of the funnel we’ve never been able to see before — something more than an impression, yet less than a click. It may not sound like much, but it is.

So what is it?

Marketers are under increasing pressure to show the results of their spend. Unlike most print advertising, digital platforms generate performance data—generally in the form of clicks or impressions. Clicks and impressions have been standard measures of online ad performance for a very long time. Neither are unique to Facebook, of course. Clicks measure audience behavior: someone reads an ad, clicks on it, and then either moves farther into the sales funnel (not necessarily immediately) or abandons the funnel altogether. Clicks are clear. When we see a click, we know that person has reacted to the ad. (Whether that person understood it is another question).

Impressions, on the other hand, represent potential audience. An impression happens when an ad appears in the user’s content feed. Impressions can’t tell marketers if a particular person saw it, only that he or she had the potential to opportunity to see it.

An Attention Impression is something in between, and it’s a groundbreaking bit of data to be able to capture. Think about the way most of us encounter Facebook: On a mobile device. Unlike the desktop view, on a smartphone or tablet your feed fills up the entire screen. To see what’s new, you scroll. Now, if you thumb past an ad without even looking, it still counts as an impression. But if you pause your scrolling to glance at an ad, you’ve created an Attention Impression—and for brands that are running awareness campaigns, “attention” is what they want.

Why is it beneficial?

Brand advertisers aren’t necessary looking for clicks. Their goal is to remind people that they exist and to associate their brand with a message: Dunkin’ Donuts has fresh coffee anytime or that Toyota cars are safe and reliable, for example. Because these ads aren’t designed to generate a click, advertisers had no feedback loop to determine if ads were well-received or even noticed. All they could was count impressions and hope for the best. But if sales don’t lift in three months, was it because the ad was bad, or was it shown to the wrong people, or did the right people just not notice? There was no way to tell.

An Attention Impression tells an advertiser that a certain ad stopped a certain user in his or her tracks. Now, because Facebook is a walled garden—meaning users are logged-in and identifiable by a number of demographic criteria–advertisers can start to test what demands attention: Does a green logo or an orange logo create more attention? Are emotional benefit ads pulling better or worse than technical benefit ads to a certain population? Instead of spending blindly and hoping for the best, brand advertisers can compare different audiences and different creative in relative real time, and adjust their spend accordingly.

As of this writing, measuring Attention Impression is a beta-feature and has not been rolled out to everyone. We’ve had the opportunity to use it on behalf of certain clients. We know it is powerful—and we know how to help you benefit from it when it becomes available to the public.

Want to know more about Attention Impressions and all the latest tools that make Facebook an exceptionally powerful platform for digital advertising?  Get in touch.

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