SWIPE… SWIPE… SWIPE…
I THEN HOVER OVER AN INSTAGRAM VIDEO BUT THEN CHOOSE TO
SWIPE… SWIPE… SWIPE…
CONGRATULATIONS to the person who created the video that I eventually clicked!
OK, they got me to click BUT this is only the beginning of the challenge facing content creators…
How long will my attention span last once the video begins????
Before you read on, I would like to ask you to answer the following question in my poll:
Click on almost any music video today & you will see videos with insanely rapid cuts and endless varieties of camera angles. See Lady Gaga below for example:
The average shot length (ASL) according to VashiVisuals (Nedomansky, 2017) of Lady Gaga‘s Paparazzi is 0.8 seconds and that is long compared to Metallica‘s Enter Sandman (below) with an astounding ASL of 0.3 seconds……. CRAZY!
Gone are the days of Fred Astaire and the ONE SHOT videos…. OR ARE THEY?
With over 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube EVERY minute & on average 8 Billion daily video views on Facebook (Smith, 2018), ALL creators of content face the ever challenging task of getting our attention and once they have our attention they then need to keep it (Weatherhead, 2014).
In an “age of acceleration” (Keen, 2018), Ads are getting shorter (Sweeney, 2018), videos are containing the vital facts within seconds to keep us engaged (Weatherhead, 2014), Snapchat is the norm (Naughton, 2017) and our need to do 100 things at once on our myriad of devices (DiNucci, 1999)(Cited in Allen, 2012) is adding to the already diagnosed “instant gratification” (Weatherhead, 2014) culture largely driven by our internet consumption.
“Instant gratification” (Weatherhead, 2014)
Arlen Kantarian, former chief executive of the United States Tennis Association, comments in a recent article (Clarke, 2018) that even the sports world are discussing how to “speed up play, given the shorter attention spans” of spectators.
I can openly say that I am a consumer, as Hetzel (2002)(Cited in Cova and Cova, 2012) illustrates, that has adopted a hedonistic approach to the way I seek to immerse myself in consumptive experiences (Cova and Cova, 2012).
“Consumers no longer have a complex about seeking pleasure through consumption” (Hetzel, 2002)(Cited in Cova and Cova, 2012)
What does the research say about our attention spans?
So many large publications (TIME Magazine, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The New York Times) all discussed this study. However, a BBC radio program, 2 years after the study was released queried some of the sources included in the study and uncovered that
“the figure that everyone picked up on – about our shrinking attention spans – did not actually come from Microsoft’s research. It appears in the report, but with a citation for another source called Statistic Brain” (Maybin, 2017)
The journalist – Simon Maybin – couldn’t track down any record of the research to back up the statistics that EVERYONE decided to focus on.
Open University Psychology Lecturer, Dr Gemma Briggs, who specialises in studying human attention disagreed with the Microsoft study and commented that the amount of attention we apply to what ever it is we are doing will vary from what is being demanded of us at that moment (Maybin, 2017)
Also, just to point out, the BBC article also ripped up the age old myth surrounding gold fish and their apparent lack of memory or short attention spans… Ironically, Professor Felicity Huntingford points out that neuro-psychologists and scientists actually use the fish species as “a model for studying memory formation” (Maybin, 2017).
Although some of the sources involved in the Microsoft publication have come under scrutiny, TIME Magazine highlights an interesting point suggested by Microsoft that our
“weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet” (Microsoft, 2015)
Microsoft did make some wonderful conclusions about how our abilities are improving at processing information (Microsoft, 2015) and they suggest that marketers (which is really anyone who wants something seen) need to, NOW MORE THAN EVER, “defy expectations, leverage rich media and movement to grab attention” (Microsoft, 2015).
As we can ALL testify, it is so easy to swipe away, click somewhere else or open another page.
Perhaps our attention spans haven’t decreased…
Perhaps we have become accustomed to a high level of instant engagement in a world of instant gratification…
Perhaps we have always needed things to GRAB OUR ATTENTION but there are now endless pieces of content fighting for our attention…
So the research doesn’t necessary prove that our attention spans are dwindling…. it’s just that we have got quicker at deciding what we like, what we want & if we are willing to invest our limited time in engaging with the content… Instagram have just introduced IGTV with a 1 hour video limit (Systrom, 2018) so our attention spans mustn’t be doing too bad as our Digital Culture continues to evolve through our fetish for technology (d’Arnault, 2015).
Whether you AGREE or DISAGREE that our attention spans are dwindling, why not find out how your attention span is doing?
The UK version of Psychology Today offers visitors to their site the opportunity to test their attention span in a short self-completed questionnaire. The test is made up of 10, mostly Pre-coded Open questions. The site makes a point of mentioning that the test is “intended for informational and entertainment purposes only” (Psychology Today, 2018) so its basically a bit of informative fun!
My results are below….. HAVE A GO YOURSELF – CLICK HERE FOR THE TEST