ATTENTION@MAD//Fest is upon us, with its key themes becoming ever more relevant to modern marketers.

There will be three strands to the conference: the ‘cost and value of attention’, how creative thinking can give you an ‘unfair share of attention’, and the increasingly problematic ‘ethics of attention’.

The second and third themes are going to be fascinating, with marketers from the likes of Mars, Karl Lagerfeld and Dreams talking about their experience of optimizing their creative for attention, and radical new thinking from academics attached to the Centre for Attention Studies at King’s broadening our understanding of what attention really is.

But it is perhaps the first theme that has seen the most interest – and witnessed the most change in the last few months.

One of the standout presentations will be from Katie Hartley at Dentsu, who will be talking about how they have been putting attention data to use for clients. Dentsu have developed what they call their Effective Attention tool kit – a series of planning, buying and reporting tools that helps brands optimize their spend on the basis of predicted attention.

What’s particularly interesting about the Dentsu system is that it recognizes that not all seconds of attention are equally valuable: 2 seconds of attention on platform A may be worth more than 2 seconds of attention on platform B in building memory structures or driving intention to purchase.

Evidence of this approach was on display at a recent conference in Denmark, where things have moved from theory to practice with impressive speed.

Dentsu Denmark has been embedding attention data into their planning and reporting tools. At the Attention Economy Conference, Anne Mathilde Hansen described how they use attention data to optimize a typical campaign aimed at 25-34 year old women. In the ‘classic’ media planning approach, lead by purported reach metrics and CPM rates, the optimal media mix would have been heavy on social media and light on pre-roll video and rich media formats. However, when you apply attention predictions to the cost of each media choice, suddenly the story changes. In fact, it seems that the ‘expensive’ media is actually an ‘attention bargain’. This would then lead to a fundamental reallocation of resources.

It's stories of the practical application of attention data that will be one of the highlights of the Attention Stage at MAD//Fest this year.