You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish

Good morning, 

How are you doing? Are you having a leisurely LinkedIn scroll this morning? Kids okay? The dog?

If you’ve stuck with me this long, congrats. You’ve outlasted the average human’s attention span of 8 seconds. According to a 2015 Microsoft study, our attention spans have been whittled down from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. A goldfish’s attention span? 9 seconds.

As our attention wanes, our tech adapts. We’ve watched as iPhones scrapped the home buttons. They eliminated “slide to unlock” in favor of instantaneous fingerprint and facial recognition software. Charging went from plugging in a cord to slapping the phone on a pad.

Apps satiate our need for immediate gratification as well: simply tap to open. Long-winded Myspace profiles and Facebook pages gave way to 140 character cut-offs on Twitter long ago. In 2011, liking a post on Instagram went from searching for a cutesy heart button to a lightning-fast double tap of the photo itself— and that was way back when Instagram looked like this.

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The AdTech industry’s answer to all this has been shorter ads, which is a surface-level fix. Savvy marketers have found ways to grab peoples’ attention and provide them with better experiences. Value exchange advertising, for instance, does this by offering free wifi or in-app rewards like extra lives or points in exchange for a viewer’s attention.

Consumers love the change of pace. Our research shows that 71% of consumers say value exchange ads are the most engaging type of ad. That’s why major companies like Spotify, and Pandora have all run ads that reward their viewers.

Another solution is native advertising. These ads match the look and feel of the editorial that surrounds them, providing a more user-friendly and less interruptive experience. They take advantage of shorter attention spans by combining the ad with the online experience. You don’t even have to leave the site to see the ad.

For years, the advertising industry was predicated on the idea of interrupting people. Marketers need to think differently and adapt to changing mobile environments and changing habits. Our attention spans are definitely shrinking, but that doesn’t mean advertisers should run for the hills. Instead they need to meet consumers on their terms by providing value.

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