Simplicity & Context in the Battle for Attention

If the attention span of Generation X watching rotating MTV music videos back in the 90s was low, it has plummeted even further among today’s multiplatform media consumers.

And according to Cannes Lions Innovation speakers at HeyHuman’s The Battle for Attention Live: Digital Revolution vs. Human Evolution, marketers must make creativity and communications more ‘brain friendly’ if brands are to win over the minds of digital consumers.

“People think technology will help them multi-task, but we’ve done neuroscience studies to show that the attention of TV viewers who are also looking at their smartphones drops to one third,” said Dan Machen, Director of Innovation at HeyHuman, speaking to Lions Daily News prior to the Friday 26 June session, “the more technology you use, the less attention you pay.”

He added: “People’s attention is getting maxed out. Advertisers need to recognise this and reframe their concept of communications. At an event like Cannes Lions, which champions the art of storytelling, marketers and agencies need to simplify how they produce their narratives.”

Our attention span is finite and the brain accounts for about 2% of our body mass while using 20% of our daily energy, Machen said. Being aware of this is vital if marketers are to produce campaigns that resonate with multi-tasking digital natives. The use of more colours, logos and icons is a start, he suggested, because simplicity in communications goes a long way.

Multi-sensory marketing – where sound, vision and the other senses are targeted separately – is going to play a greater role, Machen added. And context will be even more essential if a brand’s message is to cut through the noise generated by multi-device, multiplatform, multi-screen digital media.

First published in Lions Daily News