Co-op claims industry first with online ads optimised for attention

New Google algorithm could help advertisers buy online media more effectively.

Co-op: online display campaign optimises by attention based on eye-tracking research
Co-op: online display campaign optimises by attention based on eye-tracking research

Co-op and its media buying agency Dentsu Aegis Network have teamed up to create the first-ever ad campaign that uses custom Google algorithm tech that optimises for viewer attention. 

The algorithm optimises online media buying after campaign assets have been put through eye-tracking research.  

Using attention as a key variable is a departure from conventional programmatic media buying, which is optimised according to audience targeting and data collected about internet users.

While Co-op and Dentsu Aegis say the attention-optimised algorithm delivers a "significant increase in effectiveness", it signals how major advertisers are looking at a future in which open-market programmatic buying could be more heavily regulated. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office launched an investigation in July and called on the real-time bidding supply chain to clean up "intrusive" practices. Critics have claimed that RTB is a large-scale breach of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Web browsers such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox have also introduced greater privacy controls that would hamper audience targeting, such as blocking third-party cookies by default.  

The online activity is part of Co-op’s "Easy to cook and easy to recycle" campaign, which is live and aims to shine a light on making packaging more recyclable. 

A Dentsu Aegis team of specialists worked with Google’s technology team to develop a custom algorithm that would use a number of variables to better inform programmatic buying through its Display & Video 360 platform. This model was then combined with research consultancy Lumen's eye-tracking data to refine the customised algorithm's bidding process based on the viewer’s attention.

While the variables themselves are the same as other programmatic buying, the model and algorithm help Dentsu Aegis move away from simply using viewability as a proxy for attention to incorporating other variables, such as size of creative, domain, time of day and day of the week. These variables have been shown to deliver greater actual attention, according to Lumen.

Initial results for the campaign showed an almost 20% increase in engagement during a six-week period and showcased the capabilities of this kind of technology, Dentsu Aegis said. 

Caroline Beesley, head of digital marketing at Co-op, said: "We are constantly looking for new ways to develop and enhance our targeting strategy and we know viewability continues to be a hot topic in the market. Dentsu Aegis have turned this challenge into an opportunity for us with this industry first that focuses our spend and share of voice on areas with highest chances of impact."

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