This is a post I wrote at work for the Cre8ive Wisdom blog, drawing together some recent marketing news with my knowledge of hyper attention collected while studying in my final year of University.
View the original post here
It is commonly agreed that the attention span of Generation M, or the Internet Generation, is generally pretty short. The Internet and digital technology is blamed for this – the move away from getting stuck into a good book to flicking between browser tabs, windows and mobile apps. This is known as ‘hyper attention’, which Hayles describes in relation to ‘deep attention’. A generation that has been brought up with digital technology and online media tends to prefer receiving information through multiple streams, becoming easily bored and distracted by long pieces of writing and less able to focus on single tasks.
Most new marketing, advertising and PR campaigns focus on short, sharp bursts in order to capture audiences’ attention enough to quickly blurt out all the information before attention is lost once again. When it comes to text, short, snappy copy is far more preferable than lengthy articles – no matter how well it’s written, people don’t want, or don’t have time, to read. This is particularly the case with the rise in popularity and use of mobile digital technology and smaller screens. As described on Mashable: “If web copy is skimming the cream off the top of the milk, mobile copy is skimming cream off of the cream”.
Mobile smartphones in particular have very small screens and it is important that marketing copy is optimised for this. 300 words on a computer screen or an A4 page may not look like much – but on a phone that can be a lot of tedious scrolling! People tend not to ‘get stuck in’ to reading, or watching, things on their mobile phones. A lot of the time that people spend using their mobile phone is while they are doing something else, where there are even more distractions. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I find it second nature to pick up my phone and have a browse while standing in a queue, waiting for a friend or walking to a shop, for example. At any minute it’ll be my turn to order, my friend will turn up or I’ll get to the shop and my phone will be locked and put away in a pocket or handbag. Mobile marketing copy needs to be shorter and sweeter to suit our distractive and hyper-attentioned lifestyles.
So keeping someone’s attention for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, half an hour is out of the question, right? Not when there’s a free burger involved, apparently.
Burger King has turned the tables with their new marketing strategy which, instead of trying to satisfy our hyper attention spans, encourages people to stare at a TV screen for ‘long’ periods of time. TV – where an advert lasts seconds and we’re used to watching soaps with their snappy, attention-keeping, interwoven scenes. Subscribers of the US satellite service DirecTV can flick over to channel 111, watching a spinning Whopper burger for 5 minutes to be told which button on their remote control to press in order to be sent a voucher for a free Whopper. A further 10 minutes and the patient person can get two burgers… A full half an hour wins the ‘lucky’ (and probably very bored/hungry) person deservedly (?) gets three free Whopper vouchers.
While I’m not sure I could sit and watch a burger for five minutes – let alone half an hour – without feeling tortured through hunger or just incredibly bored, the campaign is doing very well. And while long, tedious, adverts or articles requiring time and attention often don’t work, innovative does work and Burger King are #winning on this occasion!