The disappearing attention spans of consumers.

Today I was talking with one of my company’s longtime clients about how much of a challenge it is to attract the attention of people in target marketing campaigns.

Her view is that it’s become progressively more difficult over the past dozen years or so.

Empirical research bears this out, too. Using data from a variety of sources including Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook and Google, Statistic Brain Research Institute‘s Attention Span Statistics show that the average attention span for an “event” on one of these platforms was 8.25 seconds in 2015.

Compare that to 15 years earlier, when the average attention span for similar events was 12.0 seconds.

That’s a reduction in attention span time of nearly one-third.

Considering Internet browsing statistics more specifically, an analysis of ~60,000 web page views found these behaviors:

  • Percent of page views that lasted more than 10 minutes: ~4%
  • % of page views that lasted fewer than 4 seconds: ~17%
  • % of words read on web pages that contain ~100 words or less: ~49%
  • % of words read on an average web page (around ~600 words): ~28%

The same study discovered what surely must be an important reason why attention spans have been contracting. How’s this tidy statistic:  The average number of times per hour that an office worker checks his or her e-mail inbox is … 30 times.

Stats like the ones above help explain why my client – and so many others just like her – are finding it harder than ever to attract and engage their prospects.

Fortunately, factors like good content and good design can help surmount these difficulties. It’s just that marketers have to try harder than ever to achieve a level of engagement that used to come so easily.

More results from the Statistic Brain Research Institute study can be found here.

The 2015 Marketing Buzz-Meter Kicks into Gear

We’re only a few weeks into 2015, and already the marketing buzz-meter is operating at full force.

amplificationThe latest marketing buzz phrases are always interesting because, while they surely relate to trends and tactics that are taking on greater importance, they can also be short-hand references that “everyone” uses but “no one” really understands.

Consider one popular buzz-phrase example from 2014:  “Big Data.”

I don’t think I’ve heard the same definition of what “big data” is from any two people.  Yet it’s a term that was bandied about throughout the entire year.

No doubt, “big data” will continue to be a popular buzz phrase in 2015 as well.  But you can be sure it’ll be joined by a number of others.  As Natasha Smith, editor of Direct Marketing News magazine reports, get ready to hear many of mentions of these buzz terms as well this year:

Dark Social:

This references online content, information or traffic that’s hard to measure because it occurs in messaging apps, chat and e-mail communications.  Purportedly first coined by Atlantic magazine, it’s a term whose very name conjures up all sorts of mysterious and vaguely sinister connotations about behaviors that are at work below the surface – thereby making it an irresistible phrase for some people to use.

Viewability:

This term is becoming increasingly popular due to people’s concerns that much of what makes up “viewed” online content turns out to be hardly that.  For instance, there’s a difference between a simple video impression (merely an open) and a “viewable” one (opened and staying open for at least a few seconds).

More than likely, over the coming year the Interactive Advertising Bureau and other “great experts” will be debating over what actually constitutes a “viewable” impression.  All the while, you can be sure that marketers will be referencing the term with abandon.

Attention Metrics:

Dovetailing “viewability” is the idea that traditional online marketing metrics such as unique visitors, clickthroughs, and page views are too shallow in that they don’t really measure the true consumption of content.

Enter the buzz term “attention metrics.”  No doubt, marketers will be all over this one in 2015 as they focus more on the time and attention people are spending with content, not merely the fact that some form of engagement happened.

The Internet of Things:

This term started appearing on the radar screen in 2014 but is really coming into its own now.  It even has its own Wikipedia page entry.  While the commercialization of data-collecting devices such as wearable sensors and sensors embedded in appliances and other electronics is an undeniably significant development, this term has to be one of the most pretentious-sounding phrases ever coined.

… Which makes it an irresistible entry in the buzz-meter lexicon, of course.

Conscious Capitalism:

Rounding out the 2015 list – at least for now – is a buzz phrase that captures the essence of what every socially aware marketer wishes his or her company to be.  “Conscious capitalism” refers to companies and brands that are purportedly socially responsible and “in sync” with the needs of the community and the world.

This is considered important because so much survey research shows that people respond positively to companies that “do well by doing good.”

what's all the buzz aboutExpect many people to embrace this approach – and the accompanying buzz phrase – because it sounds so perfect.

[Never mind that things often come crashing down to earth if and when consumers are asked to pay more for the “socially responsible” products and services, or to make unpleasant or unexpected adjustments to their routine in the event.]

Do you have any other examples of marketing buzz terms that you think are poised for stardom (or notoriety) in 2015?  Please share your thoughts with other readers here.