3 Remedies for Advertising Attention Deficit Disorder

September 25, 2012

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“Excuse me. May I have your attention, please? Hello, Hello, can you hear me? Is this on?” You may not hear those actual words from the ads you glance past while you are multi-tasking, but that is what many advertisers are trying to say. “Hey, over here. Take a look.”

In this age of multi-screen viewing, it is even harder than ever to grab someone’s attention. Even if you are utilizing ‘non-interruptive’ marketing techniques such as inbound marketing like organic search or SEM to reach people who are looking for your product or service, consumers can be quickly distracted. I call this Advertising Attention Deficit Disorder or AADD.

I have two teenage daughters who both received iPads for their school. Almost all of their books, reading material and assignments are stored and completed on this device. I used to have a hard time separating them from their phones or the TV. Now they have an iPad on their lap, a phone in their hand, and either the TV or music playing in the background. It takes numerous attempts for me to get their attention. But if a promo of their favorite show flashes on the screen for 5 seconds, they are suddenly aware and glued to the TV. Why? Because people are attracted to the messages that interest them and are relevant to them. (Yes, I know this means that I am not interesting or relevant to my daughters yet. My time will come).

Here are three tips to help overcome consumer Advertising Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD).

Number One. Make it interesting. This has long been an axiom in advertising but sometimes gets overshadowed by the technology. The delivery mechanism will always be changing, but unless you design your messaging to stand out and be compelling, no one will pay attention. This is true for images and for copy. In today’s world, consumers decide in less than 5 seconds if your website or homepage is worth clicking further. It is even less for banner or text ads. So make the first impression count.

Number Two. Make it engaging. Give your reader or viewer a reason to stop, click or call. Ask yourself (or better yet your customers or noncustomers) about what would motivate them to take an action. Is it a discount, is it a free piece of advice or service, is it an offer that is about to expire? Or have you created an image that is so unique and compelling that the viewer wants to learn more? This can be harder in a B2B setting, but not impossible. Everyone has emotional and rational needs and some brands are better than others at appealing to these senses. The bottom line is that if your advertising is engaging and leads to a second impression, then you have a chance to break through the clutter and get a little more of their undivided attention. And depending upon the method of engagement, you may have captured a contact that you can then reach again at a later time.

Number Three. Make it multi-channel. If you accept the fact that consumers of all ages are multitasking while watching TV or being on their PC or tablet, then make sure you are trying to reach your target audience in more ways than one. You are much more likely to grab their attention if they are exposed to the message more than one time, and assuming it meets the first two requirements above.

According to a study by the Advertising Research Foundation with the support from Ball State University, television is still the dominant medium during multi-screen tasking. But for younger demographics under the age of 44, time spent watching TV is almost half compared to older consumers while time on their PC or watching other web-based video is growing. With the advent of Hulu and NetFlix streaming, along with sales of tablets, television advertising will continue to diminish in importance in the overall marketing ecosystem while digital marketing will continue to grow. So, find the best channels to reach your audience and use as many as you can.