Paying Attention To Young Consumers' Short Attention Spans

Short attention spans apply to the digital world more than we realize -- especially for young consumers.

A new Time Inc/Innerscope Research biometric study of those who use lots of media platforms and devices -- so-called "digital natives" who grew up with mobile technology versus those who took on mobile devices as an adults -– show they switch media some 27 times per hour.

It seems that "digital natives" also aren't all that interested in specific story lines. They don't mind jumping around and coming back to their own stream of media consciousness.

This is quite different rom the older "digital immigrants" who seemingly have come from a foreign media land of traditional TV and other areas. They like a linear world when it comes to storytelling.

This is worse then any marketer can believe. Imagine attempts to track down these younger consumers where devices and platforms can be switched "every two minutes.” No matter. What's important here is what we don't know.



Betsy Frank, chief research & insights officer for Time, says that “in order to keep 'digital natives' engaged, content creators and marketers will need to think differently. Grabbing them from the beginning is essential, as is content they can snack on and offering multiple access points to every story.”

Yeah, but where is the ending?

It's not surprising that these young consumers are a different sort of breed: More than half prefer texting people rather than talking to them.

Hmmm.... no talking, lots of changing media, and no linear storylines? Now try to do some behavioral marketing to this group. When you get truly frustrated, use the pinball media plan approach: go for ricocheting reach.

Using "biometric" belts and special glasses with cameras that follow tracks of consumers’ eyes, Time and Innerscope looked to measure "unconscious emotional responses." 

Not many conclusions were drawn -- only that consumers "used media to regulate their mood." Couldn't a sedative work better?

Here's the good news: These are your future consumers. Right now, they are not too worried about their brand of detergent, car insurance or home loans and mortgages. You just need to keep your eye on them -- if you can.

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