The attention crisis: Impact of the shrinking attention span on marketing and how to stay afloat in a content-saturated media landscape

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8… have we captured your attention? The simple answer is most likely not. 

Did you know that the attention span is now only 8 seconds long? Yes, just 8, which is significantly shorter than the attention span that was reported in the 2000’s of just 12 seconds, a huge 4 second depletion. It won’t be long until we don’t have any attention span at all! Often referred to as the attention crisis, it is a current issue having direct effect on marketing efforts. As the issue worsens it adds complexity to the role of marketing and we find ourselves questioning how effectively we capture your attention in just 8 seconds. It’s a challenging task, isn’t it?  

Let’s delve into the age of the eight second attention span.

Can we have your attention…

Studies have shown that year on year, the attention span of humans is decreasing rapidly. In 2000, the human attention span sat at 12 seconds, whereas now it sits at only 8.25 seconds, officially shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. 

With this in mind, we must question what primary reasons are contributing to the attention crisis. 

An addicted generation

The widespread adoption of social media is an apparent observation, becoming so deeply intertwined with our lifestyles that some may argue we now prioritise social media and all it entails. 

The pervasive embrace of social media is an evident trend, becoming so intricately woven into our daily life that some could argue that we exist in symbiosis with it. It consumes us and the reason why its referred to as an addiction, as it can act as a dependency. 

Studies have revealed a correlation between increased screen time and a declining attention span, presenting a conundrum. Let’s break it down – in today’s digital first world, marketing predominantly exists online, inherently involving screen time. This makes us question if the efforts of marketers are futile as online marketing material can’t truly be retained, recalled or consumed. 

Warning … content overload!

Having said that, the sheer volume of uniquely different content available exacerbates the issue. The pure abundance of content online has defocused consumers, which makes it difficult to be visible through the noise of the media. 

In a study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development of Technical University of Denmark, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Research Scientist, concluded:  

“Content is increasing in volume, which exhausts our attention. Our urge for ‘newness’ causes us to collectively switch between topics more regularly.”  

This rapid pace of trend evolution means needs and wants are continually changing and consumers are always seeking new content to like, follow and admire. This demand for continuous content is only fuelling content consumption, screen time and the attention span crisis. 

So, where does this leave us marketers? All the elements seem to be against us, making our jobs extremely difficult. With all this said, let’s look at ways to help engage your audience. 

Capturing the focus

In the digital first world being a marketer is challenging, as capturing the attention of the intended audience can prove difficult. Let’s explore some strategies that won’t disappear in the sea of content

  • Real time marketing (RTM):  

Trends – constantly shifting, they may have even changed while read this sentence. Understanding marketing and trends in real time is vital, with 26% of marketers seeing a positive difference in conversion rates, as a result of RTM. This is a fundamental consideration in strategy creation, ensuring your content is in line with the latest trends and can be easily consumed. It is one of the most effective ways to keep consumers engaged.  

  • Video content:  

Video content has been extensively shown to entice higher levels of engagement. A study revealed that humans retain 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they read. This can be attributed to factors such as shorter information density, rendering video well-suited for the 8 second attention span age. Moreover, emotional connection can be enhanced through tone, voice and music, as using consumers emotions are the key to engagement. 

  • Storytelling:  

Capitalising on the emotions of our consumers? Yes, a strategic must! 

Storytelling is a way in which marketers can strike emotional chords with consumers, compelling then to take action. Storytelling is a strategy that is used universally, and human psychology in consumer behaviour studies have revealed that narratives create relatable content, increasing the likelihood of engaging audiences from start to finish. (Hooray we have captured some attention!) 

There, you now have some ways to pave your strategic direction to ensure your content is being consumed. For further insights and guidance on capturing your audience, continue exploring here. 

Continuously challenged by consumers

If your attention span has stretched this far, then there you have it… the “the goldfish effect” – a real, genuine concern and challenge for marketers in the digital first world. So, 8 seconds, that’s all we have. Let’s use it wisely, through the correct strategy and decision making. 

Don’t want to be lost in the sea of content? Microsoft 365 Marketing, which is newly integrating with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights into a single offering can help improve your Marketing function. Contact one of our consultants today and transform your digital operations.