Why “Good” Content Doesn’t Work Anymore

Eight. Is the average attention span of humans getting shorter? 

Seven. Our attention span is now apparently less than that of a goldfish! 

Six. However, how much truth does this statement hold? 

Five. Are we losing focus or are we being buried in a sea of options? 

Four. While reading an article, we find ourselves surrounded by other stories. 

Three. And even before we realize it, we have abandoned the former to be sucked into a new piece. 

Two. So, what exactly is going on with our attention spans? 

One. Well, time’s up!

If I haven’t hooked you this far, I have failed at creating good content. 

The myths of attention span

For over 20 years, our attention span has been compared to that of a goldfish. However, a recent study by The Guardian in 2019 disproved that showed that our average attention spans for the last century have remained constant.

The attention span of a goldfish has increased from a meagre 5 seconds to 9, while that of humans has dwindled from 12 to 8. A coincidence, I suppose.

When we wake up there are a million notifications waiting for us – from the latest Bollywood scandal to the price drop on our wishlisted items.

Too many choices, too little time

It’s little wonder then that it’s our patience levels, and not our attention spans, that have shrunk.

If I can grasp your attention for more than 8 seconds, it’s because you choose to stay put.

In this world of infinite options and limited time, it is still possible to grab our attention. The only difference is that we have set the bars higher.

A changing audience

Millennials and Gen Zs form the majority of consumers at present. If the content is not relevant to them, why should I expect them to sit around and consume something they have no use for? 

Increase in digital marketing

With the increase in digital marketing, it’s getting more difficult to create relevant content for the ever-changing audience. There isn’t a universal rulebook to follow, and it’s unlikely to succeed each time you try. 

Mobile phone use

A 2016 survey from Deloitte reveals that 40% of people reach for their phones in the first five minutes of waking up. Attention spans have been hijacked by the incessant drip feed of content every second.

Inability to focus

Distraction wires the brain, it becomes near impossible to focus and boredom comes all too easily. Like caffeine, distraction is addictive and demands instantaneous responses. I have to consciously stop that pressing urge to check that inviting flash from a notification when I am in a meeting or having a conversation with my family.

“The brain starts learning how to switch rapidly from one task to another to another. It becomes a habit. But this habit conflicts with focused attentiveness

William Klemm, senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University


With so many hurdles, how can we possibly make ourselves heard? How can we make content that’s not just “good” but “fantastic” or “marvelous”? 

It seems like an impossible dream. But you have stayed with me so far, haven’t you? 

Clearly, there are ways. 

What are they? Watch out for part 2 of our series on creating attention-grabbing content!

About the author:
Amar Gulwade
Director & CCO
Square One Communications LLP.

Amar is an expert strategist with 10+ years of experience in advertising and communications. He is a keen observer of industry trends in advertising, digital or ATL, and believes creativity is still the key to the success of any advertising campaign. An avid reader, he recently subscribed to the idea of connecting to a wider audience by expressing his thoughts and ideas through blogs.

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