Advertising to a Short Attention Span World

November 22, 2017 Advertising Questions


Are you old enough to remember the “Where’s the Beef” commercial by Wendy’s? If so, then you probably know that you had to watch two-thirds of the commercial to get to the product mention. In today’s world this would never fly. Advertising to today’s millennials means dealing with their extremely short attention spans. A recent study by Microsoft discovered that our ability to focus on a single task has decreased by 4 seconds over the last 17 years, which means we now have a shorter attention span than even goldfish. (The average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds while ours is 8 seconds.) In light of this information, the advertising world has to change the way that they market to people. Some of the ways they are doing so are outlined below.

Tip 1: Short and Sweet on Social Media

Social media has been short circuiting our brains since it came on the scene. With the wealth of information that social media provides right at your fingertips, people have become accustomed to getting their information quickly and in small bites. Advertisers need to keep this mind. An important way to do this is by creating a “hook” to grab the viewer’s attention. If this is a video, place the hook in the first few seconds. If it’s a static message, make sure the hook is the main message you’re delivering. The hook needs to contain the explanations of why and how your product or service is a great value to the viewer.

Tip 2: Response is Always Required

Over 70% of consumers expect to hear a reply back when they Tweet or post about a brand on social media. Not responding to these Tweets or posts can drastically reduce your followers and your brand recognition. Those that are registering a complaint on social media want to hear back within an hour, while others expect the brand to retweet what they wrote or at least acknowledge it. With a world that is built heavily on technology and immediate response, it’s in your best interest to connect with your consumers and cultivate as many real-time relationships as you can.

Tip 3: Use the Rule of 7

In every good marketing plan, the rule of 7 must be followed. This is more like exposure therapy to those that they’re marketing too. The more the ad is put out there, the more it will be acted upon. Just having it grace the front pages is something that is not going to make consumers take action. It has been shown that the more exposure a person gets to an ad, the more likely they are going to notice it at a later date and actually check into it. And it’s not enough to just reach them repeatedly on one media platform. You must meet them where they are, meaning advertising at events they attend, blogs they follow, television shows they watch, and websites they visit. Also, consider mixing your use of various message delivery systems whether that’s video, audio, text, or other form of delivery.

Tip 4: Videos Hold Attention

Placing a video at the beginning of your website or web-based ad can help hold attention spans longer than just plain text. The number of people that would rather watch a video than read text is astonishing. According to MWP Digital Media, 59% of senior executives say that if both text and video are available, they prefer to watch the video version. Adding videos to various sections of your website or other marketing platforms can help boost your marketing efforts. Instead of plain text, button clicks and boring formats, you can add videos that will truly come to life on your page and actually make visitors want to be there.

Tip 5: Faster Website Loading Time

In the 8-second attention span world of today, no one is going to sit and wait for a website to load. They’re too impatient for that. They want to see the website and they want to see it now. If your site loads too slow, people will eventually get tired of waiting and move on to sites where they can immediately get to the content. This is especially true for mobile visits. To test whether your website loads, visit This site will grade your load time compared to other sites.


With an average person seeing around 5,000 ads a day through online outlets, it is no wonder that they do not notice or click on them all. With short attention spans, we can only click or be attracted to one thing for a short period of time. You want to be that one message that catches the person’s eye. By remembering this, you can organize your advertising to make those 8 seconds count. If you’d like to learn more about how you can reach consumers of today, contact Raven Marketing at 503-954-1473.