Mobile Attention Span and How to Keep It

You’re speedily scrolling through your Facebook feed on your iPhone, occasionally pausing to read what catches your eye briefly. You begin reading an ad from a cool clothing company when a friend texts you a link to a funny YouTube video. You’re laughing out loud, but two-thirds of the way through you receive a notification at the top of your screen alerting you to a work email—maybe it’s important—so you check it.

As you’re skimming the email, you get a Snapchat from your friend who is always sending you the wildest stuff. You have to see what he’s up to now… the email can wait. While you’re on Snapchat, you can’t help but see what everyone else is up to. Suddenly a call comes through from your mom. You hesitate and ultimately decide to ignore the call—you’ll just give her a ring later.

Let’s be honest about our mobile attention span — you’re not going back to that Facebook ad. You probably don’t even recall the label’s name. You carry on with your day, bouncing from activity to activity, app to app.

When advertising on Facebook and Instagram (or simply on mobile in general) it is essential to keep in mind that at any given moment the user has countless distractions vying for their attention. Even the most intent driven consumer can be susceptible to diversions.

Although this is all outside of your control, there are actions you can take to combat the minuscule mobile attention span. First and foremost, mobile marketing ads should be pleasing to the eye. This is your best chance of capturing attention. Knowing that this attention is fleeting, use copy to highlight why this consumer should care.

Although this sounds like a no-brainer, this is a missed opportunity for many advertisers. If a legging brand is advertising to me, it isn’t enough to just state that they make the greatest leggings. There are dozens of other legging brands trying to communicate to me that they make the greatest leggings. Why should I care about these leggings in particular? Make sure crucial differentiators and value propositions are known immediately for maximum effect.

When acquiring new customers or leads, don’t be afraid to advertise to each user more than once. Whether it’s within the same platform or establishing multiple touchpoints, communicating your strongest message to the consumer multiple times is the best safeguard against the phenomenon outlined above. Maybe the viewer was distracted when served the first ad—a second ad provides another opportunity to capture interest! Just be careful that frequency doesn’t get so high that you’re spamming your target audience.

As you can see, our mobile attention span is shot. You certainly aren’t guaranteed to capture the attention of all your targets on mobile, but a thoughtful strategy of beautiful, potent, and repetitious advertising is the essential foundation for finding success in this unpredictable environment.

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