Thanks Social Media – Our Average Attention Span Is Now Shorter Than Goldfish [SLIDESHARE]

Oops. I forgot!

On October 9, 1999 I married the love of my life. The following day we were whisked off to Average Attention Spanbeautiful Hawaii for an amazing honeymoon trip we still talk about now almost 15 years ago.

2 days into our trip, I was videotaping the sunset and noticed on the date stamp on the old camcorder screen that it was October 12th – OMG I forgot it was my birthday!

How could I forget my own birthday? (Thankfully, it was mine and not my wife’s!)

But it’s easy to see how this happened. I had gotten married, spent almost a whole day on a plan to fly half-way around the world. I landed in a tropical paradise and I guess part of my brain just checked out. This was 1999. Before Facebook. Before Twitter. Before iPhones with reliable cell service.

Linkedin launched in June, 2003. Facebook launched in 2004. YouTube launched in 2005. Twitter in 2006. And now we also have Pinterest. And Instagram. And Snapchat. All of these mechanisms are pushing content across a world that now also sends millions of texts per second.

Our average attention span is now 8 seconds – 1 second less than a goldfish

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. That’s right, goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds – 1 second more than you and I.

According to the source, this is due to “external stimulation” like all that content marketing we’re producing and distributing across all the social media channels. The research states:

“Attention span is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals. It’s no surprise attention spans have been decreasing over the past decade with the increase in external stimulation.”

Additional statistics on attention spans:

  • 25% of teenagers report forgetting important details about their friends and family
  • 7% of people forget their own birthdays from time to time
  • The average office worker checks their email 30 times every hour
  • Typical mobile users check their phones more than 150 times per day (Mary Meeker)
  • Content on the internet tripled between 2010 and 2013
  • Social media sharing has doubled from 2011 to 2013

The content marketing imperative #MPOMMA #IWNY

This was one of the key stats that really seemed to resonate with the audience I spoke to this morning at #MPOMMA #IWNY.

I was thrilled to kick off the day as the opening keynote. And although I was competing with the mayor of NY, Bill de Blasio on another #IWNY stage, the audience filled the Media Post Theater at OMMA Native #MPOMMA.

My job was to set the stage for the discussion on Native Advertising.

I asked “Why are we talking about Native Advertising?” And the answer is because digital, social and mobile access has changed the world. Marketing has become highly ineffective because consumers can now tune us out.

What do they tune in to? Stories. Stories that connect on a human and emotional basis.

I also provided an overview of the journey we’ve taken and some of the native advertising we’ve tested.

Check out my slides here:

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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