The Two Second Attention Span
by Rob Drasin @rdrasin
Two seconds. That’s the length of time that the Internet Advertising Bureau says is needed to validate an online ad impression.
You may have recently read that a Goldish has a slightly higher attention span (9 seconds).
Its interesting that the baseline metric for observing an impression is that small of a timeframe. This implies that advertisers should feel ok about spending money to attract eyeballs with that amount of time to impart their message. Two seconds means something as a unit of attention.
In 1997 Neilen released this study, which became the boilerplate for how the web was woven. 20 years ago we knew that 79% of people scanned pages rather than reading the content.
A more recent study concurs that for Newsletters, people have even more abrupt reading patterns. For mobile content it’s even worse.
Part of this has to do with information overload. According to the study, “The number of new or unread messages is now 300% higher than it was just 4 years ago.”
However there are ways to cut through the clutter, and the techniques are more simple than you might imagine .
If you can make your message concise, objective and scannable, your engagement will jump 124% over text that has a more traditional format. The reason is that as consumers, we’ve become adept at filtering out unnecessary information. And, we bring our consumer habits to work.
The study goes on to explain, “Our conjecture to explain this finding is that promotional language imposes a cognitive burden on users who have to spend resources on filtering out the hyperbole to get at the facts.“ If you do not format your messages for electronic media, you are literally imposing a cognitive burden on your readers.
This is a major factor in why multiple studies report that over 50% of all internal communications aren’t read. Corporate communicators need to recognize that employees are consumers who show up at work and they bring their consumer media preferences and habits with them.
Proper use of toolkits and strategies for formatting messages to decrease cognitive burden should be the rallying cry for Goldfish the world over.