‘The opportunity for attention’: Metrics firm Adelaide draws investment from bigwig media backers

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July 16, 2021 by Michael Bürgi

The attention side of media evaluation and metrics just got a bit of big-name backing. Adelaide, a two-year-old ad-tech firm looking to move digital media buying and selling forward from CPM- and viewability-based metrics to attention-based evaluation, just got a $2 million funding shot in the arm from a murderer’s row of investors.

The investors, who put up their own money, include former GroupM chairman Irwin Gotlieb, Medialink CEO Michael Kassan, ex-Nielsen CEO Lynda Clarizio and Moat co-founder Jonah Goodhart, as well as others.

Gotlieb told Digiday he’s long pushed for a more quantifiable way to make media decisions that goes beyond the use of cost-per-thousand viewers/users (CPM). “CPMs don’t reflect the value of any impression or media opportunity because they don’t gauge effectiveness of media,” he said.

A lifelong “quant guy” who has written code for buying and selling media since the 1970s, Gotlieb validated Adelaide’s hardware and software setup before putting up his money. “I don’t invest in anything I haven’t assessed thoroughly,” he said. (Gotlieb is also a board member of research firm Comscore.)

Kassan said he was impressed by Adelaide’s board of advisors, which include Clarizio, former Publicis exec Rishad Tobaccowala, former ARF head Jim Spaeth, marketing observer Bill Harvey, and research vets Alice Sylvester, Marshall Cohen and Howard Shimmel.

“There are a lot of important words in our industry that start with the letter T — transformation, technology, trust, etc. What Adelaide is doing really hits on transparency,” said Kassan, who’s also recently invested in Hudson MX, another tech firm developing products for agencies and marketers to reduce their media costs. “This is especially important knowing the way brands are more focused than ever on optimizing their media.”

Marc Guldimann, Adelaide’s CEO, said the company’s AU metric (which, not coincidentally, is also the symbol for gold) aims to focus on the opportunity for attention rather than the duration of attention, which is why he pushes hard against viewability as an evaluation standard. “Duration is a proxy for attention, but does it drive outcomes?” asked Guldimann. “If we gather enough information and input, eventually [AU] will be able to better predict outcomes.”

Advocates of attention metrics as a replacement for CPM-based evaluation have been vocal for a few years now. Key to securing traction in a marketing world that’s weary of wave after wave of new “solutions” from ad-tech vendors is education. “No one wants to transact on a currency they don’t understand,” said Guldimann, who noted that having Moat’s Goodhart on Adelaide’s advisory board is key, since Moat faced that very issue as it tried to get its solution adopted.

In the end, no matter how elegantly AU or any other metric can measure, calculate and optimize, Guldimann acknowledged that the creative process will ultimately determine the success of a campaign. “Media’s job is to create the opportunity for attention; it’s creative’s job to get that attention.”

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