Pay attention: your audience isn't

Matt Smith: head of production at Tech TV
Matt Smith: head of production at Tech TV

When you look at the stats, it's scary how short our attention spans are becoming.

Smartphones, tablets, dual-screening and the increasing distractions of everyday life mean we’re consuming more media, but digesting less of it. We all do it, skimming through content to see if it grabs us and clicking away if it doesn’t. It’s a modern disease. 

Hey, don’t go – I haven’t finished!

The stats around video for example, show that more than half of viewers give up on a video after 60 seconds, and many click elsewhere after just ten seconds. I’m sure it’s the same story across PR, advertising and marketing content.

That’s news to a lot of clients. Some still work on the impression that more is more. They often want to stuff in a shed load of messaging and build up to some big finish. 

But what if the online audience is gone before the message gets delivered?

In a world of 140 characters and six-second Vine videos, audiences are impatient, easily bored, and can quickly click on something else that sparks their interest.

We’re all guilty of it.

But what does this mean for the creative industries? Does everything we do need to be condensed into the punchy, attention-grabbing format of a commercial?  What can we do to keep people interested?

One idea we’re exploring here is to up-end the content – getting to the punchline first and telling any back story afterwards. 

The other option is chopping longer-form material into much smaller bite-sized chunks and let people pick and mix. A sort of video meze, if you will. 

Big stodgy meal of content – or a plate of interesting looking morsels?  I know which I’d choose.

Matt Smith is head of production at Tech TV, a London and Surrey-based video production company

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