If you find yourself locked in a staring contest with a goldfish, chances are you’re going to lose. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library for Medicine, released a study that shows that the average attention span for a human dropped from twelve seconds in the year 2000, all the way down to eight seconds in the year 2013. That worthy foe floating inches away has an average attention span of nine seconds- goldfish: one, humans: zero.
This is a troubling statistic in terms of contests with household pets, and the success of advertisers and entertainers alike. How can you sell your product or keep folks in the seats if they journey into Imaginationland every 8.1 seconds? As time goes on, and our society delves deeper and deeper into the immediate gratification of social media, the world wide web, and sites such as Twitter and Instagram, our ability to pay attention lessens. It’s almost a wonder feature-length films exist anymore.
The Guardian of Great Britain released an interesting “Internet Users Attention Span 101” sort of article about a year ago. The article highlights some of the key points and basic principles of consumer attention spans and internet surfing habits. As previously stated, the main goal of an advertisement to portray and promote a product has now turned into a very real science and very big battle of creativity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity. No longer is the staple sixty second commercial an acceptable standard. Now, not only on television, but increasingly more on websites such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Vevo, and your favorite mobile app and game, there are ten, fifteen, and thirty second spots. Effectively advertising your product in thirty seconds is a challenge, doing so in ten or fifteen seconds is the new mark of a master.
Finally, in an attempt to explore the dark side of the moon, Variety, released a very interesting look at some major companies and brands pushing away from the shrinking attention span, and relying on quality storytelling, advertising, and production to sell a product, even if it takes two or three minutes. FiveSix Productions’ David Dalasta wrote an interesting article about episodic social media that could well be a look at effective advertising in the near future. Perhaps these young minds and young consumers aren’t losing the ability to pay attention; instead, the young folks and the generation behind them are simply overwhelmed with too much of a bland, mundane thing and are waiting to be thrilled, enticed, and engaged in a new, creative, and exciting way… even if it takes more than eight seconds. Game on gold fish.