Imagine that you’re blindfolded and willingly throwing money into a pit as you fight battles beyond your means. It may sound far-fetched, but that’s exactly what’s happening with brands and their advertising spend right now.
I know this firsthand. I work with brands and practice the marketing principles of buying, selling, capturing, and using consumer attention efficiently. When I don’t have my branding hat on, I work to help brands navigate this battlefield.
The volume of video content has exploded in the past few years, which has drastically changed consumer behaviour and how they respond to brands while many brands are struggling to keep the pace or failing to adapt. For advertising to work, it has to attract attention before it does anything else, and then the consumer has to be persuaded before the interaction ends. But you need different content for grabbing attention vs. persuading people. To grab attention, you need to entertain. To persuade, you need to inform. Given limited ad time or space, you may not always be able to do both.
The need to grab attention means that the entertainment factor is really important. Ad design and creative really matters.
You can capture it in one moment, only to have it disappear in the next, as a new shiny object enters the attention arena. Consumers are pulled in several directions at once in today’s fragmented media world, challenging marketers to get their brand’s message noticed over all the commotion. My advice is to stop wasting money on “spray and pray” media and maximise attention by optimising the creative factors you can control. How much attention someone will pay to an ad depends on countless factors, such as what’s competing for their attention, the context of the ad, the creative execution itself, and its relevance to the individual.
When consumers actively seek out content or information – they’re intentionally pursuing passions that add meaning to their lives. Brands are now faced with a choice: integrate into attention, or with intention? Engaging with audiences at a deeper level is the key to creating lasting connections, yet some brands are still fighting the odds to reach the distracted masses.
Not only are human attention spans shortening, but the number of brand advertisements individuals are exposed to is increasing. According to a study by Microsoft, the average person now has an attention span of only eight seconds, lower than that of a goldfish. This is a sharp decline from the average attention span of 12 seconds as recently as 2000.
On top of that, consumers are overexposed. Australians see or hear up to 600 advertising messages every day, a number that’s growing right alongside the rapid development of new technology and messaging channels.
Accenture’s 2018 Consumer of the Future Survey found that consumers are placing more value on brands that show that they are sustainable and align with their own values. This trend is being driven by the Millennial and Gen Z generations, who are increasingly affiliating themselves with brands that care about equality and environmental issues.
So build the engagement slowly and deliberately. There is a lot of talk about quickly increasing engagement rather than thinking in terms of building that relationship incrementally. People are not willing to watch or consume a 30-second ad if they have no connection with the brand. After all, you have to have a coffee with someone before you ask them over to dinner. The same applies for brands. For that reason, it’s important to think in terms of developing multiple short interactions to create a “ladder of engagement” with a customer. The idea is to build relationships with your brand incrementally, with small asks of attention before big ones, so that you can earn customer attention—or else you’ll never be able to keep it.
There’s no magic formula for earning a potential customer’s attention, but there are certain principles brands can lean on. At a higher level, there’s one simple question I encourage you to ask to determine a game plan for navigating today’s increasingly complex attention economy: Are you spending on the right platforms, and are you leveraging the tools of each in a way that will help you capture and keep consumer attention?
If you need assistance with your brand, from creating your initial brand strategy to the visual identity elements, contact us today …we’d love to help you bring your brand to life.