attention please and thanks

MUST CREDIT: @esmith_images/Instagram This Instagram photo shows a man missing a humpback whale surface two feet away from him because he was glued to his phone. The moment was caught during a whale watch in Redondo Beach, California, professional photographer Eric Smith told ABC News today. Smith said he had about five photos of whales with the private sailboat in the background, but the guy never got off his phone in any of the pictures.


Our Attention Span is on the decline and at a rather dramatic rate. According to the 2015 Microsoft Report a Canadian Study found that the human attention span has declined so much so that it is now lower than a goldfish. In the year 2000 it was recorded that 12 seconds was the average a person could stay attentive. By 2013 this number decreased to an average of 8 seconds whereby a species of fish has now surpassed it (Microsoft, 2015). Uh oh!

As we have moved to a digital style of living: classes online, friends online, Tv online, it is somewhat understandable that our attention has reduced. Our increased technology consumption and digital lifestyle has condensed our ability to maintain a steady focus for extended periods of time largely because of ‘multi-screening’ action. Today people can quite easily get distracted online especially through various devices. We can find anything we are looking for on the web. The web has all the answers…well not really but sort of.

Multi-screening has in my opinion made it extremely difficult to focus our attention on one particular medium. The same study through a survey found that 77% of people reach for their phone when nothing is occupying them. 79% said they frequently use devices while simultaneously watching TV and 74% said they watch TV through catch up streamed Tv (Microsoft, 2015). I for one can attest to all of the aforementioned statistics. As a matter of fact as I was writing this blog I had a number of different tabs open flicking my attention when I was lacking interest and stimulation. And this goes for everything, not just Uni work, when I’m watching Tv I will almost always have my phone with me as a boredom reliever, particularly through those long, taxing commercial breaks. Today we can accredit our savvy multitasking to our incessant use of technology.

For marketing and advertising however the idea of multitasking and lack of attention has in a way ruined the traditional methods of communication. Think about this – what happens when we are in front of the TV but accompanied by our laptop and phone, our attention moves away from the Television and their adverts to our social media accounts or anything online. Commercials played on prime time television once had a specific purpose and that was to reach a large audience in a convenient manner – the comfort of one’s own home. However, today this is lacking in effect, marketers have had to come up with new innovative ways that they can broadcast their content. Multitasking has inadvertently helped advertising progress with technology. Marketers are essentially competing for attention and have since harnessed other platforms to broadcast their advertising strategies ie facebook.

It is no doubt that our attention span is adapting to our changing patterns of living but how far will our attention span deteriorate? Can we increase our attention span or are we subject to remain lower than a fish. It has become a major fight for attention. What has this meant for other industries?

Microsoft, 2015, Attention Spans, Microsoft, viewed 28th September 2015, pp1-51

Watson, L, 2015, ‘Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones’, The Telegraph, viewed 28 September 2015


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