The erosion of attention in the era of “information overload” has become cliché. The disintegration of attention has long been related to computer technology. For instance, the first published use of the word “multitask” appeared in an IBM paper from 1965 in reference to a computer simultaneous processing powers and it has since become a mainstay in the popular idiom of the modern culture of distraction. It might be said that we’re rapidly becoming beset with “digital amnesia.”
Studies have discovered that for the memory habits of 6,000 adults, looking up information online “prevents the building up of long-term memories.” Similarly, in 2015 Microsoft published a report that argued the widespread use of smartphones has led to the deterioration of attention span from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today.
The erosion of attention has especially enormous implications for the world of advertising and marketing. More importantly, this fragmentation of attention has become a huge crutch for the luxury industry as it paints a landscape where technology has wrought harm to our ability to be wholly present.
Think with Google has recently found ad attention effectiveness depends on more than just reach as attention rates differ widely across screens. The majority (55%) of TV ad time is not paid attention to, as people multi-task, switch channels, and fast-forward sporadically. In contrast, paid YouTube advertising is 84% more likely to receive attention and users who both see and hear ads experience “higher brand awareness, higher ad recall, and higher consideration” than those who only see or only hear ads. Consequently, Google asserts it’s “time to think beyond reach” and that “reach is worthless without attention.” The crucial distinction between reach and attentive reach is a new pathway for advertising research in a sector such as luxury, which really requires a full emotional and mental receptivity for high-priced purchases.
Snapchat, the ubiquitous and immensely popular app that allows images and videos to be shared for a limited number of seconds, offers a curious insight into this hurried culture branded by the buzzwords like “distraction” and “partial attention.” Remarkably, this platform of superficiality and hyper-temporality has achieved great success in the volatile environment of online advertising. The app has coupled a data-centric technology that pinpoints an ad campaign’s users with its platform based on the projection of brief, distracting bits of fun, to surprising success.
A recent article in Business Insider outlines how Snapchat is eating into “a key source of Facebook’s ad revenue.” It has recently developed a sponsored lens format, where advertisers can purchase expensive selfie filters (which are called Lenses) for national campaigns, allowing brands to instantly assert their own style on the platform of brevity. It is worth noting that Tiffany, just a year ago, had jumped on the occasion to do just that. Furthermore, Snapchat also struck a deal recently with Oracle Data Cloud to show ads based on what users buy in the real world and has developed the machine-learning technology to target app installer ads that ask users to swipe up on full-screen video ads.
This, in the words of Peter Sellis, a director of monetization products at Snap Inc., “is a new cost-efficient way to drive app installs right from Snapchat.” In other words, Snapchat has built a new way for brands to communicate with their customers from inside the Age of Distraction. Making inattention not a detrimental or paralyzing effect, but the means to distribute fun and stylish content to Generation Z, which is becoming increasingly difficult to penetrate. Snapchat’s success as a platform for social media-based advertising speaks of the importance of finding new mediums of communicating with customers in the Age of Distraction. This, for luxury items, is a gold mine.