Why do marketers continue to debate whether or not "short attention spans" matter? At times the debate sounds like an argument about whether or not the trend even exists. Most of the arguments against it don't resonate with me.
I saw one that said they don't matter when it comes to blogs or long-form content because Google still indexes long-form content.
Well, good for Google. Now, when someone clicks on the article, can you guarantee they will read the whole thing?
Another argument says if your content is good enough, they'll watch/read/listen to it all. That has some merit, but are we still talking about attention spans?
Let's consider video for a moment.
I recently sat in on a session about a successful YouTube formula and the importance of keeping someone engaged in your YouTube videos. Even as the presenter bragged about his stats - his analytics showed a 36-minute video that averaged 9 minutes of viewing time.
I don't know about you, but when I'm searching for something (like an answer), and I see a video that might give me what I need...the FIRST thing I check is the length of the video.
If it looks like it could take 12 minutes to answer one question - I may not even watch.
Or I might skip, skip and skip in hopes of landing on what I need.
The content might be awesome - maybe even worth watching the whole thing - but I just need my answer.
My attention span will not hold for that long if it takes 7+ minutes to get to the answer - even if the content makes me laugh and cry like an exaggerated reaction video.
Can those who argue against the attention span question say it's never mattered when they found content?
If they stopped watching something (or skipped ahead), skimmed a long blog or turned their attention someplace else, was it ALWAYS because the content wasn't good enough?
Did they ever stop reading something and then say, "Well, Google showed me this...so, I need to read the whole thing!"?
Could it be an issue of time, place, situation or other factors?
I think the bigger problem is we discuss this topic like it's a "Yes" or "No" question.
So what do we do?
In the video below, I share an article I found that dismisses the "people have shorter attention spans of goldfish" proclamation and takes a deeper look at the state of marketers and attention spans.