Our Attention Spans Keep Shortening: How it Affects Marketing

Our Attention Spans Keep Shortening: How it Affects Marketing

Have you ever felt like your attention span is getting shorter? It’s not just you; new research has revealed that human beings are, indeed, flakier than ever before!

“Social acceleration” is real, it’s being led by social networking, and it’s ruining our attention spans.

That’s according to a new study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark, which defines social acceleration as “the increasing rates of change within collective attention.”

In fact, the average human attention span has shrunk by nearly a quarter in just 15 years, and we’re now lagging behind the humble goldfish in terms of being able to focus on a task or object.

Here are some of the facts from the research, let’s hope you are able to concentrate till the end;

According to research, our attention span has markedly decreased in just 15 years. In 2000, it was 12 seconds. Now, 15 years later, it’s shrunk significantly to 8.25 seconds.

In fact, scientists reckon we now have shorter attention spans than goldfish, who are able to focus on a task or object for 9 seconds.

That means – as marketers – we’re all trying to sell to goldfish. No wonder it sometimes feels difficult!

Human beings are very, very forgetful…25% of teens forget major details of close friends and relatives. 7% of people forget their own birthday from time to time, and studies suggest that each week, 39% of Americans will forget one basic piece of information or lose one every day item.

Oh, and by the way, we’re also easily distracted! An average office worker will check their email inbox 30 times every hour (yup…every two minutes…wow) and will pick up their phones more than 1,500 times per week amounting to 3 hours and 16 minutes a day.

What about when we’re browsing online? Similar story, I’m afraid. On the average web page, users will read at most 28% of the words during a visit, with 20% a more likely expectation. The average page visit lasts less than a minute and users often leave web pages in just 10-20 seconds.

The good news is that there are still ways to hold attention. Nielsen research suggests that pages with a clear value proposition are able to hold people’s attention for much longer.

Our top tips are pretty simple – be clear in your messaging. Focus on UX and ease of navigation. Keep your messaging short and sweet. Appeal to consumer desires – tell stories. Oh, and use video.

Yeah, video is sweet. Some of the attention span stats above are pretty bleak but did you know that the average viewed length of a single internet video is 2.7 minutes? And that 59% of senior executives would prefer to watch video than read text where both were available? We’re biased but the data definitely fits what we’ve been saying – video is a great way to override the shrinking attention span of the human goldfish!

Among other conclusions, the researchers determined that more content being produced in less time is exhausting the collective attention.

“The shortened peak of public interest for one topic is directly followed by the next topic, because of the fierce competition for novelty,” they write.

Since the available amount of attention remains more or less the same, the result is that people are more rapidly made aware of something happening and lose interest more quickly.

However, the study does not address attention span on the level of the individual person.

“Our data only supports the claim that our collective attention span is narrowing,” the researchers write. “Therefore, as a next step, it would be interesting to look into how this affects individuals, since the observed developments may have negative implications for an individual’s ability to evaluate the information they consume.”

Sources; MediaPost, wyzowl

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