AB InBev ‘increasingly’ looking to buy media on attention over CPM

The founder of AB InBev’s in-house agency draftLine believes the media industry will continue to make a “directional shift” towards attention as a primary trading metric.

AB InBev is “increasingly” moving away from buying media purely on traditional cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) and towards buying “attentive reach”, according to AB InBev’s global vice-president of consumer experiences and in-house agency draftLine.

Media performance metrics have come under growing scrutiny over recent years, particularly those measuring effectiveness of digital media. With the value of metrics such as shares, opportunity to see and viewability being questioned, some brands are experimenting with ways to measure the level of actual attention consumers pay to their ads across different channels.

In June 2020, AB InBev joined the likes of Mars, Diageo, British Gas and Reckitt on the then-recently launched Attention Council, a confederation of brands, agencies and publishers working to understand how attention can be used as a trading currency for media.

Meanwhile, the price of media has been rising rapidly post-pandemic. Forecasts from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and Ebiquity for 2022 suggest the cost of digital media will inflate by 6.4%, while total offline media will inflate 5.5%. TV is expected to have the highest cost inflation at 9%, while outdoor media’s cost inflation will be 5.7% and radio’s 4.9%.

It’s about getting the reach you need and making sure you’re capturing the right amount of attention.

Tracy Stallard, AB InBev

“The media industry has historically sold itself on CPM and on the idea that an impression is an impression and a reach point is a reach point,” explains draftLine’s Tracy Stallard, speaking to Marketing Week at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

“Increasingly we’re thinking about attentive reach. How much attention are we really capturing in this moment? Is the individual in a moment when they can actually be open to a new message or a new way of thinking about a brand?”

When looking at the media marketplace from the perspective of attention, there remains some “pricing discrepancy” compared to a pure CPM perspective, she adds.

Passion points

In her role as global VP of consumer experiences at the company, Stallard leads a team which takes a particular focus on how AB InBev’s brands – which include Stella Artois, Corona and Budweiser – use passion points such as sports, hobbies or interests.

“We know that consumers are much more attune to receiving new messages when they’re in something that they’re actively leaning into and that tends to be their passion points. So we’re really looking at using attention as the way we want to transact and buy rather than just a CPM approach,” she says.

While media channels including cinema, magazines, TV and news brands have been particularly vocal in their support of attention as a metric for trading and measuring performance, Stallard says AB InBev hasn’t yet found itself prioritising one channel over another.

“We’re not channel focused, we’re people focused. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make sure we’re reaching people in the right place and the right way,” she says.

“It’s about getting the reach you need and making sure you’re capturing the right amount of attention.”

Stallard adds she is closely watching developments in the attention measurement space, predicting this segment of the industry will continue to grow.

“I do think that will be a directional shift the media industry will be making,” she says.