The rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok has undoubtedly transformed the way we consume content. While these platforms offer a wealth of educational information, laughs and entertainment, they have also shown to have a significant impact on the human brain in ways no one saw coming. Here’s the tea: According to a study by Microsoft, the average attention span of a human has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just eight seconds in 2015… and it’s getting shorter. Latest studies are suggesting we’ve reduce it even further to only 5 seconds in 2022.
First came Facebook, and a slow and steady stream of new posts was available until you hit the end of the page. Next came infinite scrolling, an invention by Aza Raskin, that meant there was no natural break to how we consumed content, we could scroll endlessly, forever. Next, these companies IPO’d, being beholden to their shareholders and Wall Street’s desire for ever increasing user acquisitions, increasing user engagement, and time-on-site metrics, we forced these social media giants with the power of the almighty dollar to design ways to keep our eyes on their apps and websites longer than ever before. Next, came reels, high-stimulation videos from apps like TikTok, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook all designed to grab your attention, only to disappear from your memory a split-second later as you swipe on to the next… and the next.. and the next.
It’s true. On social media platforms, users are bombarded with a seemingly endless stream of content that is constantly updated and refreshed. This has created a culture of “scrolling” and “swiping,” where users quickly move through content without fully engaging or processing it. The result is a shortened attention span that can make it challenging for digital advertisers to capture and hold the attention of their target audience as everything is just a swipe away.
While we don’t agree with many of the choices these social media companies have made, we’re not here to have a moral discussion about whether these actions are right or wrong.
What we are doing is talking about how we as a digital advertising agency are adapting to this environment, and coming up with ways to break-through this zombie-esque behavioural trait and standout above the rest.
Here’s some ways to beat the game:
- Keep it concise: With limited attention spans, it’s essential to keep ad copy short and to the point. Get straight to the point and avoid using long-winded language.
- Use eye-catching visuals: Visual content can be a powerful tool for capturing attention quickly. Use high-quality images or videos that are attention-grabbing and relevant to your message.
- Use text in images. Most often, people won’t even read your copy, but a flashy image with some easy to digest text will get your message across in an instant.
- Target your audience: The more targeted your advertising, the more likely it is to resonate with your audience. Use audience segmentation and targeting to ensure that your ads are seen by the right people.
- Be creative: With so much content vying for attention, it’s essential to think outside the box and be creative with your advertising. Use humour, unique visuals, or unexpected messaging to capture attention and stand out from the crowd.
The shortened attention span caused by social media platforms is a significant challenge for advertisers. However, by understanding the impact of these platforms and using best practices for advertising, it’s still possible to create effective ads that resonate with the target audience, generate clicks, and encourage conversions. As the digital advertising industry continues to evolve, it’s essential for advertisers to stay ahead of the curve and adapt their strategies to meet the changing needs of consumers.