It has been suggested that you have just seven seconds in which to make a good first impression upon first meeting someone, otherwise you may cause irrefutable damage to the long-term future of the relationship.
Whilst seven seconds may not seem like a long-time, we as digital marketers have to be even faster to serve up an ace first impression for your customers. In fact, in a survey by Dynatrace last year, it was suggested that consumers will on average give you just three seconds before deciding to head elsewhere.
The research by Dynatrace also uncovered that a half second delay in page load time can result in a 10% loss in sales for online retailers. Unfortunately it looks like this trend is only set to continue in the coming years as researchers in Canada discovered that “the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.”
For context, the average goldfish is believed to have an attention span of nine seconds.
Fortunately, there are an increasing number of ways for us to combat this global fall in attention spans, supposedly brought on by the smartphone revolution. This is why it is not only vital to have a mobile optimised website, but to also implement a range of optimisation strategies such as image compression and browser caching.
Furthermore, with Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) and the introduction of Facebook Instant Articles, there are a variety of ways in which we can speed up page load times, especially on mobile.
This trend of shortening attention spans has extended far beyond just page load times however, culminating in Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer last week announcing the platform is working to develop video ads as short as six seconds.
It certainly isn’t the first time social networks have pushed for such short video formats (RIP Vine), and in fact, sees Facebook fall behind the likes of YouTube and Fox who have embraced the shortened video format in order to combat consumers’ ad avoidance.
Tropicana has already begun testing video ads that are 6, 15 and 30 seconds long and have reported the shortest format saw “higher brand metrics across the board.”
Interestingly, this announcement comes just a month after Google and L’Oreal announced they were working on a project to sift through data on what people engage with on YouTube so L’Oreal can put out timely six-second ads that will run prior to that content on the platform.
This means L’Oreal can not only churn out ads faster, but the relevancy of these ads will be much greater due to the shorter turnaround time. For example, they might find people on a bloggers YouTube channel are talking about specific skin issues, and therefore respond by producing six second ads featuring tips on how to deal with them.
Nadine McHugh, the company’s senior vice president of omni media, strategic investments and creative solutions said “it’s super hard to get somebody’s attention. In this time challenged environment, advertisers have to think about a value exchange with consumers more than ever.”
These shortened video ad formats also provide an opportunity for advertisers to blend into users social media routines in a more natural way. When you look at the rise of disappearing images and videos on Snapchat, or the boom of Boomerang, it is clear that there is a demand for easily consumable video content.
“The length of time of an episode or a viewing period is really important and has got to be short, otherwise you just won’t keep the attention of millennials,” said comScore CEO Gian Fulgoni whose view was also that video ads should be no more than 5-6 seconds in length.
So what can we as digital marketers take from this?
Well first up, and most obviously, get faster…like much faster. Whether it is optimising your site for page load times, or creating short engaging pieces of content, the faster the better.
Just to caveat that, not every video suddenly needs to be six seconds long, but if you are planning on using the content in ads, particularly aimed at younger social media users, than keep it short and sweet.
Secondly, be responsive. Given that eight second attention span many of us now apparently possess, it is more important than ever to respond to changing trends in your audience. Keep an eye on trending topics, check Google trends, monitor comments and follow purchase patterns and market trends to see where you should be investing your budget.