Geek

Can You Finish This Sentence? The Average Human Attention Span Is 8 ½ Seconds

By May 2, 2016Geek
Short attention spans, which may be the result of new electronic tools and information formats, present a challenge for content marketers.

There may be disagreements and diverging viewpoints the optimum length for a piece of online content, but what drives the dispute is the shrinking attention span of humans in this rapidly changing information age. People are now nearly inferior to fish when it comes to the ability to focus on one thing. Between 2000 and 2015 the average attention span of a person went down from 12 to 8 ¼ seconds, while goldfish (allegedly) maintain a span of 9 seconds.

Seven percent of people today occasionally forget their own birthdays and one quarter of all teens forget major details of prominent people in their lives. Scientists have shown that the preponderance of rapid-fire electronic communications, social media and bite-size audiovisual presentations is no coincidental factor. In fact, these gadgets and this content is changing our brains.

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Video Length

Content marketers want their product to be efficiently. The optimum length of a piece of video, for instance, holds enormous importance. The average Internet video is watched for 2.7 minutes. This does not mean that every content marketer should make every video 2.7 minutes. The number is an average, and best running time depends greatly upon the type of content and the specific application.

A very fun and entertaining video should be short – under 2 minutes – while documentary-style content can go well over the 2 minute mark. For creators of a longer form expert presentation, aimed at those heavily focused on a brand or topic, minute count can go into the high single or even double digits.

While Youtube’s and Vimeo’s viewership vary across a spectrum, the longest attention-span segment on those platforms can handle quite longer running content, even TV episode length.

At the opposite end, Facebook’s sweet spot is the 30-45 second range, while Instagram and Vine favor extremely short clips, under 15 seconds.

For any of these formats, especially the longer-running, it’s important to hook the viewer within 60 seconds, placing specific information, usable points or arresting images all within the very beginning.

TV Commercials

It is not only the Internet-connected computer screen that has felt the shortening of product length. Years ago TV commercials were one minute. Not long ago they were almost all 30 seconds; now there is the 15 second ad, a format. TV affects online computers and devices, which affects TV, in an endless feedback loop of terser content.

Text and Image-Based Web Pages

When it comes to regular, static web page content, potential customers leave slow moving sites within seconds. Reducing page size and improving speed can lead to around a one third improved bounce rate. Any delay in page load time leads to significant loss of customer satisfaction, page views and conversions. Almost a fifth of page views last under four seconds and visitors read around one quarter of the words on an average (600 word) web page. The same general principles of brevity and attention-grabbing as apply to videos apply here.

The Numbers

-If you have not fully engaged your audience after the first 30 seconds, you’ve likely lost 33% of viewers; and after one minute, 45% of viewers have stopped watching.

-Typical mobile users check their phones more than 150 times per day (Mary Meeker)

-Content on the internet tripled between 2010 and 2013

-Social media sharing has doubled from 2011 to 2013

-A one second delay in page load time can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decreased customer satisfaction and 7% lost conversions.

-Average number of times an hour an office worker checks email = 30

Instagram videos generate twice as much engagement as Instagram photos.

– Posts that contain videos attract 3 times more back links

– A branded Vine video gets 4 times more views than one by a random brand

-People watching videos on mobile devices tend to watch 3 times longer videos than people who access video content on stationary devices.

-20% of viewers abandon a video within 10 seconds

-36% of smartphone users watch long form (over 5 mins) videos every day.

-58% of smartphone users watch short form (under 5 mins) videos every day.

-48% of mobile video consumers do so through the use of an app.

Author Adam Gropman

Adam Gropman is an accomplished business copy writer, journalist and comedy writer with bylines in the NY Times, LA Times, LA Weekly, OC Register and many other newspapers and major websites.

More posts by Adam Gropman

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