Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Why The Shortening Attention Spans of Gen-Zers is a Sign That Brands Need More Ads In Less Time

Since they were brought into this world, Gen-Zers have had a plethora of content-consuming items at their fingertips. Phones, televisions, tablets, and other technological devices are constantly providing them with more than one form of entertainment and interaction. According to Statista, the average American has more than ten connected devices in their household. It’s safe to say that, because there are more ways and more content to consume, there’s also been an increase in the mediums that companies can utilize to  connect with consumers. But, in an age where “Skip Ad” buttons and scrolling abilities appeal to multi-focusing individuals, it’s on brands to find a strategy that effectively gets their messages across.

Studies on the decline of attention spans in the youngest generation are often met with contradiction mainly because of the methods used to measure them. 

A few years back, Microsoft Corp put out data from their own research suggesting that the human attention span has shrunk down to eight seconds, one second less than a goldfish.

Push-back on the data was focused mainly on the popularity of binge-watching for hours. However, the example of this 21st century pastime also provides some evidence in the argument for shorter attention spans. Rather than an inability to focus on one thing for more than a few seconds, it seems like people are now able to consume more than one thing at a time. Binge watching is much easier now than it was even a decade ago thanks to the access to other mediums that can either deepen the viewing experience or help consumers get through it. 

But, the more content people are able to absorb at one time, the more an annoyance has developed against traditional ad styles. Statista found that 66% of people found traditional video ads irritating. This statistic is not a reflection on the relationship between ads and people as a whole.

According to Statista, around 84% of consumers want and expect content from brands.

These findings do, however, speak to the evolution of advertising that needs to coincide with the evolution of consumption. If consumers are saying they expect brand-oriented content, there needs to be an increase in the presence of ads just using the resources that Gen-Zers turn to the most for cultural insights and general connection. 

Rather than filling the gaps of time between content, brands need to consider becoming part of the consuming experience; whether it be ad-based influencer posts or product placement in Film and TV, companies should be working themselves into the narrative instead of being the subplot. In this evolution of the way we see, absorb, and interact, there is also a newfound responsibility on companies to know what’s on their consumers’ minds through culture and content-based trends. 

So is the attention span of Gen-Z shorter than older generations? Researchers are debating whether or not a shortening is actually possible, however, one thing is clear about this generation: they are a group of complex multi-taskers who can scroll through a social feed, understand the full plot of a film, and communicate with friends in under ten minutes. They are a hyper-aware bunch that can’t be stopped in their paths for a 30-second video ad like others before them. Rather, they accept and appreciate the integration of brands into the forms of engagement they are most comfortable with and expect companies to match their creativity in the content they put out.