“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”


Share on LinkedIn

That quote comes from Herbert Simon, the developer of “Attention Economics.” He made this proclamation in 1971.

1971? The days of three TV networks, snail mail and a newspaper on every stoop? Yes, apparently even more than 40 years ago, time and attention were being considered a valuable commodity. Just imagine what Mr. Simon would say today, with smart phones, email, web video, social networks, video on demand, and behavioral ads that follow you around the Internet.

That’s even leapfrogging the era of VCRs, basic cable and fax machines.

And this “mass attention deficit” continues to accelerate, as dramatized by Google co-founder Eric Schmidt who said “Every two days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up to 2003.”

And unfortuantely, it’s not all stuff that enriches our lives.

So if you happen to find yourself often driven to distraction, you’re in good company.

The challenge for us marketers is to figure out how to create content and messaging that not only reaches the people we want to reach, but also “sticks.” And persuades. And leads to a sale.

No mean feat. But hey, that’s why we make the big bucks.

If there’s a “magic bullet” to creating content that can help us rise above the Byzantine morass of data and content each one of us confronts every day, it would have to come from what we’ve learned about social media. More precisely, what we’ve learned about creating breakthrough content for social media.

Whether we’re talking about a viral video (like Dollar Shave Club’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Awesome!”), a successful “how-to” web series (such as these creative Vines created by Lowe’s), or content that amplifies offline content (such as “The Walking Dead 400 Days” game), the fundamentals are the same. Develop content from the POV of the audience. What interests them? Why would they care about this? What can you do to help/entertain/amaze/inspire them?

Lowe's used 6-second Vine videos to help DIYers

Lowe’s used 6-second Vine videos to help DIYers

I’m not just talking about web video here. I’m talking about content across the spectrum. TV spots. Magazine ads. Environmental (“guerilla”) advertising. Blog posts. Social media sharing. The works.

It used to be we segmented the different kinds of media as Paid, Owned, Shared and Earned. Today, we need to look at all of it as “earned media” Just because we pay for eyeballs doesn’t mean we’re connecting to consumers. We no longer have the luxury of telling a story in 30 seconds. Some researchers say we have something like eight seconds to earn a viewer’s attention (personally, I think it’s way less than that).

That’s about the time The Fuller Brush Man used to have to persuade a homemaker to let him in the front door.

How can you tell if your concept will make it under the eight second wire? Before you write a script, summarize the idea in paragraph form (much like a screenplay). Then “pitch” it to someone who doesn’t know what you’re doing. If they get it in eight seconds, and want to hear more details, congratulations. You have the germ of a concept that just might breakthrough. If on the other hand, you get a puzzled look or find yourself having to add a backstory, then you’re sunk.

Yes, it’s about keeping it simple. But that’s not as important as making it interesting. I once asked a Creative Director I worked for how much copy I should write for a specific ad, and he told me, “as much as people will want to read.”

Great advice.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here