Attention: The Marketing Currency Beyond 2017

August 21, 2017

In early August, a team of Paulsen employees attended an exclusive digital summit hosted by Meredith Agrimedia.

Alongside other media and marketing professionals, our team took in presentations on a broad spectrum of digital marketing, including Web VR, programmatic and content strategy. Industry-leading companies, such as Google, Hootsuite and MOAT, also showed off capabilities and applicable strategies for the future.

The overwhelming takeaway for me was this: time is money. Specifically, the time potential customers spend (or don’t spend) paying attention to your digital marketing tactics.

One presentation cited a study showing a drop in the human attention span (from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. See Fig. A). In other words, a goldfish’s attention span might actually now exceed a human’s!


Figure 1

Figure A: A 33% decrease over a 15-year period has dropped humans behind goldfish in terms of average attention span.


In addition, consumers are increasingly less brand-loyal and increasingly more interested in well-written content that provides value to them.

However, the traditional metrics used to measure digital marketing success (clicks and impressions) fail to address these changes in consumers and, by extension, fail to perform for the businesses trying to reach them.

Marketers need to take consumers’ short attention spans into consideration when building creative strategy.

Luckily, many new and exciting tactics are emerging:

  • Time-based transactions, highlighting attention over traditional metrics.
  • Bumper video campaigns showing 6-second ads as entry-level pieces of content that lead to a greater story.
  • Programmatic serving of native content and enewsletters to deliver content to the most interested consumers.
  • Crafting a social customer journey with messages that correspond to the customer’s position in the buying cycle.

As these concepts continue to evolve, others remain the same. High-quality content continues to be the crux of successful digital marketing.

In fact, it’s a helpful exercise for digital marketers to start thinking of ads themselves as content!

Dwindling human attention spans are a real challenge for anyone in the marketing industry today. But adjusting to the attention economy and adding value to the consumer’s online experience will keep your business ahead of the curve.

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