You have eight seconds, use it wisely

Gail Livingstone, Chief Operating Officer, ME Digital Group, which owns and operates various websites including and, offers her thoughts and gives a few principles on how brands in the Middle East can attract and maintain the attention span of consumers in today’s fast-paced society…

“We’re living in a rushed, fast- paced, cluttered world and we want everything to be now! Gone are the days of waiting and anticipation —­ we want the whole TV series now, the up-to-the-second news now and the old phrase ‘patience is a virtue’ seems to have been forgotten. “

If you’re older than 40, you may remember waiting for that lusted after bike, ordered from a printed catalogue and waiting months for delivery, or having to wait a whole seven days to watch the next episode of your favourite TV show. Those days of waiting, anticipation and delayed gratification are definitely gone, whether you’re a millennial or older.

We want our ordered online products to arrive today or at the very latest tomorrow. We want to watch that box set in a binge marathon today. We want what we want and we want it now. Even the NBA has been considering shortening basketball games due to decreasing attention spans, which at eight seconds, is less than that of a goldfish! So if you’re a brand trying to get your message across to your attention deficit consumers, how on earth do you capture their limited attention span in the first place, much less retain it all under eight seconds?

It’s a challenge to grab the attention of consumers today and there is no magic recipe to attract them, however, there are a few key strategies and principles that will help and can make it easier to get them to listen to what you have to say:

  1. Be real, authentic and transparent with your brand communication — don’t try and be something you’re not. Consumers will see through the act and disconnect from your brand. If they trust you and believe in you and what you are telling them, they’ll keep coming back.
  1. It might sound like a well- worn cliché, but your communication needs to be relevant and interesting to your target audience. Learn as much about them so you can even ask them what they want, listen to them — do not make assumptions like, ‘millennials don’t read, or let’s only use images in all our communications’. Dig deeper and gain insight on all your consumer types.
  1. Context, channel and messaging are key — you have to tailor the context of your messages for your target audience, on the channel you are advertising on. What works on Facebook will not work on Snapchat. A cookie cutter approach is never going to work. That means each element of your topline campaign is going to have to get the bespoke treatment for omnichannel presence.
  1. Tell your consumers a real story about your brand or something totally related, as this is one of the best ways to make an emotional connection with your consumers. Make it personal and relatable.
  1. Learn to embrace change and take risks. Brands cannot afford to stand still in this ever changing landscape and what worked last year, last month is probably not going to deliver the same results today.

The core principles of marketing and advertising are still in force today, they just need to be packaged and served in the way that is current for today and tomorrow. It often seems it’s all about hitting those mega numbers, but what’s the point of having thousands of Facebook followers if none of them, or a miniscule percentage, engage with your brand or make a purchase? We have a mass of data and consumer insights available to us as marketers, but behind all those figures are real people, with real lives, real pressures and real desires and that should never be forgotten.

In the famous words of Don Draper, from the TV show, Mad Men, ‘advertising is based on one thing, happiness’. Are you making your consumers happy? If not, it’s time to rethink and get back to the drawing board- Now what is the modern equivalent of that saying?