How to capture consumer attention - when you only have half

Aaron Brooks, Vamp co-founder
By Aaron Brooks, Vamp co-founder | 15 July 2019
Aaron Brooks, Vamp co-founder

It’s safe to say marketers have their work cut out for them.

If capturing and keeping consumers’ notoriously short attention spans wasn’t hard enough, that attention is becoming increasingly split. ‘Multi-screening’ has been on the up for years and the recent GlobalWebIndex 2019 Q1 report reveals how ingrained this has become. Particularly for Gen Z, as 72% of 16-24s say they use social media while they are watching TV.

Experts claim this habit perpetuates the problem. We’ll reach for our phones because the TV alone isn’t enough to entertain us, but this constant over-stimulation leaves us needing more. The fact that we’ll often use the ad breaks to check our phones throws the effectiveness of TV advertising into doubt, but the truth is whichever outlet they choose, marketers can no longer take a captive audience for granted.

Acknowledging this behavioural shift and adapting a marketing strategy to fit is essential. As Facebook concluded in their multi-screening report: ‘In today's “attention economy,” it's crucial to understand how your audience consumes different media, and to align your marketing plan accordingly.’

Offer value
Entertainment and connection are key motivators for social media users. 38% listed finding funny or entertaining content as their number one priority. This is ahead of the 31% which use it to research products they want to buy. If as a brand you are able to offer both, then you are giving your audience double the reasons to follow you.

Brands can be reluctant to invest in content that doesn’t drive a direct sale, but offering customers value to their life - whether that’s tutorials, information or even funny memes - will build brand love and loyalty. The best examples of this come from brands who know their target customer inside out and invest in highly relevant content.

Optimise for mobile
The multi-screening trend proves that very little can tear us away from our phones. It’s the portal through which we experience so much: entertainment, connection, shopping. Ensuring that content marketing has been created with mobile in mind will put you a step ahead of the competition who are still repurposing assets that weren’t custom built.

Social content creators are one group with the proven ability to capture the attention of this mobile-first demographic. Their vast and loyal followings are testament to this. Now, brands are leveraging this know-how by commissioning them to create branded content and more than half of marketers say it outperforms their brand-created content.

Simple and actionable
In order to make the most of a consumer’s fleeting attention, you need to ensure that your marketing message is clear and instantly digestible. They need to be able to understand it with one eye on your ad and one on the TV. Considerations here include adding subtitles to videos, catering to the expectation that they may not be watching with the sound on, or getting your branding within the initial few frames.

Making it easy for audiences to take action will also be beneficial. Social media gives so many options for instant calls to action, like Instagram Stories ‘swipe up’ function or shoppable tags in the main feed. These features reduce the friction to purchase and convert your customer faster, crucially, before you lose their attention.

Video has been found to be up to five times more engaging than static images. It makes sense. Videos that feature sound and moving graphics require more of our senses so are more likely to capture our attention. The good news is that the high-performing nature of video is easy to mimic in a cost-effective way through animated elements in social ads.

High quality assets can easily be transformed into short cinemagraphs and gifs. Optimised for Instagram Stories or carousels, they can also include calls to action, perfectly placed at the moment of inspiration. Campaigns with these elements have achieved huge return on ad spend.

It’s important to remember that audiences are flitting from TV to multiple social platforms. Ensuring they have a consistent brand experience, whichever app they are on, will elevate your brand and increase trust. This should be a consideration when brands brief content creators, aiming to generate content that performs well across a multiple of platforms and formats.

Ultimately, social media offers as many solutions for marketers as it does distractions for the consumers. As always, evolving your strategy to meet your target audience is the goal.

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