Are Shrinking Attention Spans Changing the Way We Market?

attention spans

Are shrinking attention spans changing the way we market? Are our attention spans really the problem? We’ve all heard about how our attention spans continually decrease year after year. They say we’re down to only 8 seconds of focus on one thing. While I’m sure we can all agree that we don’t have the same attention span as we did decades ago, our attention spans may not be the root cause of the issue. With all of the distractions we face, especially digitally, the number of things fighting for our attention is the real culprit here. That being said, not everything necessarily needs to appeal to the shrinking attention span.

Long-Form Content

8 seconds isn’t exactly a lot of time to read an article. With short attention spans, many believe that long-form content has nearly reached the end of its life cycle. Except, research has surprisingly contradicted that idea. Long-form articles are outranking shorter articles. They’ve received more engagement, indicating that with certain content or specific industries, long-form content is a strong tool to include. The same holds true for podcasts. Many podcasts last from 30 minutes to upwards of an hour. This lengthy content is steadily growing in popularity. Industry and material play a role in the type and length of content shared. However, it’s clear that long-form content is not going away and is a strong player in digital marketing.

Measuring Engagement

Measuring engagement can help pinpoint what type of content, long or short-form, is a better fit for your audience. Digital Marketer puts it into perspective with this example, “Let’s compare a 30-second TikTok with an hour-long branded podcast: 

  • A branded TikTok video of 30 seconds duration, with 10,000 views, and an average video completion rate of 62% creates 52 hours of consumer engagement.
  • A branded podcast of 30 minutes duration, with 1,000 listens, and an average episode completion rate of 75% creates 378 hours of consumer engagement.”

The hours of engagement say it all. Over 7 times as many hours of consumer engagement occur with a 30-minute podcast than a 30-second TikTok Video. So, it’s not that we don’t have the attention span, it’s the distraction and choosing the right content for your audience that truly impacts consumers.

Why it Matters

Talking about attention spans may seem like a silly and unnecessary matter. After all, people will watch or listen to anything they want to, the attention span doesn’t matter, right? Wrong. As marketers, it’s our job to provide the right type of content to appeal to our target audience, which includes determining what type of content our audience prefers and what your niche is. Long podcasts or articles may be right for some brands, whereas TikTok videos and reels are better for others. This is where research and knowing your demographic really come into play. But why does it matter? Understanding the attention span of your audience or what distracts them will help you determine where to start when creating content. You’re not going to want to create a 2-hour long podcast episode for an audience that won’t make it 10 minutes in. You can, but engagement won’t look too good.

How We Can Combat Shrinking Attention Spans

While it may be the various distractions in our busy lives, focus or the lack thereof is still an important topic for digital marketers to address. Knowing how to combat the problem can help with engagement and more importantly, your bottom line. By incorporating the valuable pieces of information, you want viewers to see within videos, they are more likely to find them and engage.

Embedding in Video Content

Stop, click, and engage. This is the goal when we embed within videos. These interactive elements get the key information in front of your audience and increase engagement as they spend more time interacting with your brand. This strategy can be very effective for those with shorter attention spans or in industries where long-form content may not be the right tool. Embedding graphics and links in videos can:

  1. Increase engagement: It can grab the attention of viewers and spark interest that encourages further interaction with your brand online.
  2. Better user experience: It’s easier to use, more immersive, and overall creates a smooth and more enjoyable experience for your audience.
  3. Increased conversion rates: More engagement, a smoother experience, and guiding users to the desired call to action can help conversions.

Research and Data

Another key part of this is real-time data. It can help you adapt to the fast-changing environment of the digital world. Real-time data gives you more meaningful data and context into those insights. It can make a big difference in monitoring your strategies and making quick data-driven decisions. Data is how we can decide what works and what doesn’t for our audience.

Breaking Down Attention Spans and Marketing Strategies

When you break it down, there are 4 parts to this: attention spans, distractions (understanding your audience), your niche, and whether to use long-form or short-form content. You first need to understand consumers, what distracts them in their day-to-day lives, and how short or long their attention span will be based on buyer personas and demographics. You then need to consider your niche. Are long podcasts or quick reels a more effective tool for the type of content you produce and the industry you’re in? Then using the information you’ve gathered up to this point, you need to decide long form or short form. When you have a strong foundation, then it’s time to implement a strategy with best practices that will take the data you’ve collected and put it into action. For example, as we mentioned previously, if videos are the right choice for you, then embed links and graphics to appeal to the individual who will be watching the video.

Final Thoughts

So, are shrinking attention spans changing the way we market? Short answer: no. Long answer: yes. It’s not forcing us to change the entirety of how we market. The same type of content and the same tactics are still key players in digital marketing. It’s not time to kick long-form content to the curb just yet. However, it is leading us to change the way we view the situation, how we collect data, and the strategies we implement. So, it’s not a complete 180, but shrinking attention spans are not something marketers should overlook.

Not sure where to start? Having trouble pinpointing what type of content is best for your business? We’ll break it down and help you navigate the changing market of shrinking attention spans.