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Time & Attention: The Media Currencies of Today

Time and Attention

How do time, attention and engagement apply to your brand? Marketers can now choose from various ways to engage audiences for longer periods of time.

We’ve all heard the rallying cry to shift to short. “Pivot to video” or “make it snackable” are part of a seemingly endless stream of clichés designed to inspire fear in media makers, but short bursts of scannable content aren’t always the best way of engaging users. Longform content has the power to connect deeper and create a lasting impact. Wattpad users, for example, are deeply immersed in serialized, long-form content – including sponsored content – spending an average of 30 minutes every day on our website and mobile app.

So, how do time, attention and engagement apply to your brand? Here are five things to keep in mind.


1. Create moments and stories that matter

Our recent article addressed the myth of the diminishing attention span. In an age where marketers are being told to make everything shorter and more bite-sized, audiences are bucking that trend and searching out longform. Think video games, full-season TV binge-sessions, or serialized stories. Content with a strong narrative can make us pay attention for longer periods of time—which matters when you’re trying to build a trustworthy brand overtime.


2. Build models and services that fit your users

Users want hassle-free experiences, and ads are often seen as an inconvenience. But what if we could leverage advertising to fit into audiences’ lives? The company Crackle introduced break-free advertising in their television and film programming, where commercials within spots included program-related content like special insights and behind-the-scenes moments, overall increasing the program’s storytelling elements. This approach creates higher engagement and likelihood to purchase, with fewer actual ads served. Longer attention span with less time wasted? Win-win.


3. Make your product accessible everywhere

Free Wi-Fi and affordable cellular data are ubiquitous, but a product or experience with offline capabilities is more likely to reach users during those times they’re not on the net—during travel, long commutes or designated no-internet time. Whether it’s on desktop or mobile, or even on gaming consoles and in-flight entertainment systems, think creatively about how your product fits into the offline space—with fewer multi-tasking interruptions, this is prime real estate for winning a person’s attention, and keeping it there.


4. Establish an ongoing conversation with your users

The more connected we become, the harder it is to cut through the onslaught of notifications, emails and messages. This means brands need to embrace unique experiences and personalization to get noticed by busy people. Just like a conversation, personalize your communications with users and your campaigns based on data to find out what they really need.


5. Consider second-screen syncing and cross-device capabilities

These days, audiences are splitting their focus across more than one screen. A surefire way to grab and hold their time and attention? Be on both screens. Second-screen syncing, which bridges the gap between web and mobile app environments, is an excellent cross-marketing tool to capture the attention of users who are always on and constantly connected.

It’s time to get creative with digital marketing so we can resonate deeply with loyal users. Time spent with a product isn’t the only measure of success anymore: attention matters, too, otherwise your brand’s key message might get lost. There are so many ways to engage audiences for longer periods of time: whether it’s looping videos, embedding content, designing mobile-friendly websites, implementing personalized pages, or creating better user experiences, we can connect brands and people in more meaningful ways and create a lasting and immersive impact.

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