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Say More with Less: How to Grab Your Audience's Attention Quickly, Part 1

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Group of young people holding phones.

In today's fast-paced, short-attention-span world, there is more competition for consumer's attention than ever before. What we're finding in this new reality is that when it comes to advertising, shorter is better. To understand this, we need to look at the latest research. First, let's talk video.

Advertising has been a necessary part of video since the golden age of TV, and the 30-second spot began to be utilized to save money on advertising in the 1950's. Half-minute ads have pretty much been the standard since then, with the exception of special event ads (like the Superbowl ads) and infomercials. However, since the internet and smartphones have changed the way that we interact with video (and our attention has been in ultra-high demand as a result), non-traditional "Micro-ads" have become more and more common—and effective.

In a 2016 study by YuMe and IPG Media Lab, video ads that lasted only 5, 10, or 15 seconds way outperformed longer ads on smartphones. Since the average American spends about 5.4 hours a day on their smartphone, this is incredibly significant. In fact, data shows that you, dear reader, are probably reading this on your phone. In an updated study by IPG Media Lab in conjunction with MAGNA Global in 2020, data showed an even higher preference for short ads, with 15 second ads sometimes even bordering on feeling "intrusive" to the consumer.

But what about non-video ads? Chances are, these are also being shown on the internet, where the average user has an eight-second attention span. And as far as online advertising goes, 50% of all online ads are only shown for 5 seconds.

So what's the moral of the story? Go short. Don't beat around the bush. This isn't as easy as you think, however. Creativity is a huge (and necessary) factor here. You need to be able to get your point across, quickly, and in an interesting way, including a call to action (something that provokes an immediate action, like "call now" or "get your free kit").

I will be revisiting the Micro-ad and how to do it correctly in the next post in this series. Keep an eye out for more "quick tips"!

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