Marketers are increasingly challenged to create short-form media.
Some of this shift is driven by new standards. Facebook will start offering 15-second video ads this Fall. Instagram video is capped at 15 seconds and Vine from Twitter is capped at only six seconds.
But the underlying driver is the vanishing attention span. This year a study pegged the average attention span at eight seconds, down from 12 seconds ten years ago. The attention span of the average goldfish is nine seconds.
Capturing attention within that eight seconds is a real challenge. Marketers already struggle to boil a message down into a tiny packaging label, a web banner ad, or even a 30-second spot. Brands usually have a laundry list of features and benefits they want to get across.
Succeeding in a short attention span world will mean creating short form media is more about the audience than it is about the brand. The answer is not to cram the same 30-second messaging into a smaller container.
I really like the Vine series from Lowe’s that features 6-second home improvement tips. The “Lowe’s Fix in Six” videos are all about the audience, yet still manage to communicate everything you need to know about the DIY retailer that created them. Here are a couple.
Stripped screw? No problem, just use a rubber band. #lowesfixinsix #howto https://t.co/zNdoiIvFOi
— Lowe's (@Lowes) April 21, 2013
Any sticker peels right off when you use a hair dryer. #lowesfixinsix #tip #stopmotion https://t.co/FpFvJSbgMv
— Lowe's (@Lowes) April 24, 2013
(Marketoonist Tuesday (because of Labor Day): I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Tuesday. Thanks!)
13 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Great post! Unbelievable that the average attention span is a second less than that of a goldfish. We are just bombarded from every direction with marketing and have become immune to it. The “Lowes Fix it in Six” is genius! Thanks for sharing their examples! I always wondered what was the best way to peel those stickers off!
That is interesting on the short attention span- I’m sure that’s why TV ads nowadays are all about being “quirky” to try and get people’s attention span. But the issue is that usually the brand doesn’t come into play until about 15 seconds in or later, so by that point their attention is lost or what they do remember is just the up-front part!
And yes, well done on Lowe’s part- the lowesfixinsix is quite catchy too
Ashley C says
This is great – and I am loving the rubber band idea (and so is everyone in my office with whom I shared this). I keep on going back to what you write in your post: “Brands usually have a laundry list of features and benefits they want to get across.” With this short-attention span medium, it’s finally not about that laundry list; it is about that ultimate, emotional end-benefit for the consumer (so the top of our favorite marketing tool – the Brand Pyramid). Because if the benefit can’t be communicated to the core audience within 6 seconds or less, then…oh wait, sorry, something else just caught my attention. #attentionspanthatofagoldfish
Jason Thibeault says
You mention a study. Can you share that?
Yes, I found it here (sourced from The Associated Press on 4.28.13): http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/
Hope that helps!
Cady B says
Tom, your goldfish attention span is hilarious! I’d love to hear about the eye-tracking study that provided that statistic. 😉
Hilarious! Good content will always get attention but adapting content to format is critical. Thanks for the smile.
Suesh Shah says
This is in ….
You are very correct in – The answer is not to cram the same 30-second messaging into a smaller container.
Short sentences was always a challenge (Mahatma Gandhi of India had mastery).
Writing short messages or, no message at all is now to be acquired by marketers.
Applicable in coming era of Mobile marketing ….
Eight seconds?!! Yeah, maybe for old people! Mellennials (Entitled Self-Centered Millennials) only have about a two or three second one. I personally refresh a YouTube video with any ad that is going to play longer than 15 seconds until I get one I can “Skip Ad” in five seconds since it takes YouTube 2 seconds of that to try to start loading an ad. Advertisers are better of putting up a picture of a cute kitten with ad text under it for one or two seconds, that at least will get my attention.
Loved the Lowe’s. CLEVER, especially the spinning cup….how could I leave before knowing the answer? Sorry, Marketing professionals, it’s going to be a long ride to short solutions.
With communication getting harder, it merits that marcom guys go back to the basics and think about exactly what objectives they want to achieve with communication artifacts. Think back to a simple model like AIDA – awareness, interest, desire …
I think Lowe’s does an excellent job of generating “interest” in the DIY/homefix/tinkerer population. They know their target segment really well. It’s easy to analyze such marketing after the fact, but it’s amazingly difficult to come up with such clever copy.
Lisa Knowles says
Finally a marketing strategy that works well for me ; )
But, I am a bit concerned what this’ll do for dentists who already live on the edge of compulsiveness. It only feeds us ; )
I’m not sure attention span is actually what that study has measured – it’s more like interest-span or boredom threshold. If the viewer’s interest can be quickly piqued then I would hope that attention could be maintained for some longer time, maybe not as long as in previous decades, but more than eight seconds.
The lessons for creators are obvious and Lowe’s have hit the nail on the head (sorry couldn’t resist) with their Vine’s. The other issue, of course, is whether our brains can actually absorb and retain information received in such a short burst. The neuroscience on that is not conclusive as far as I am aware.
Wilbert Kragten says
We love this one and last year we launched our agency called Five Seconds Worldwide. We only focus short impactful content ‘to break through the clutter’…which funnily enough is also cartooned here. So, do spread the word!
Check out the research from Microsoft about digital behaviour and attention span.