Prezi on Attention Span

Is Your Attention Span Longer Than a Goldfish’s? Director of Marketing for Prezi Weighs In

by Jackie Davis

Binge-watching. A phrase coined when Netflix first hit our home TVs with thousands of hours of shows and movies. “Are you still watching?” We’ve probably all gotten that message a few times, and yes, we totally are. What’s interesting is that we can camp out on the couch for days buckled down with snacks to devour a series, but studies have shown that humans have a small attention span – smaller than a Goldfish.

“Microsoft published a study a few years ago that looked at attention and it said that humans have an attention span of eight seconds, which was less than a Goldfish. The implication for marketers was pretty negative. At Prezi, we didn’t really buy that,” said Stefanie Grossman Director of brand marketing at Prezi.

If we can watch a movie, binge-watch shows, and play endless video games, then how can we have an attention span of eight seconds? Prezi set out to answer that question in their State of Attention study and came back with some interesting facts – turns out, we’re just picky. 

“Your attention span isn’t short, it’s just selective,” said Grossman. Six out of ten people surveyed said they’ll give content their full attention, more than they did a year ago. Half of participants said they are more selective with the content they spend their time on. Why watch an ad when you can watch commercial-free? 

“Millennials today make up the majority of the workforce and they are the most selective. 40 percent of them say engaging content can hold their attention without distraction,” explained Grossman. If people are getting choosier, then how can marketers engage them? 

According to Grossman, it’s the same as the makings of a good movie. “It’s really about story, dialogue, and visuals. Having that strong story that captures attention, having dialogue, and visuals is the key,” she said. 

Unfortunately, most ads and especially presentations are the opposite. It isn’t uncommon to have presentations filled with bullets which is overwhelming, and boring, for the viewer. “When you don’t have a story with the right kinds of content it can be bad particularly because 95 percent of business professionals surveyed say they multitask during meetings,” said Grossman. 

This multitasking causes mistakes. 20 percent of people surveyed say they’ve made a mistake due to multitasking. “There is a lot of opportunity. A strong story behind a presentation is critical,” explained Grossman. 

Eighty percent of participants said animated visuals are effective at keeping them engaged, a handy thing for marketers to take note of. While the Goldfish theory is wrong, content still needs to be engaging to pull people in. “The investment really comes from the story. You have to work with your team to find that story,” said Grossman.

Want to see how stories connect engagement to demand in action? Click here.