Getting to the Marketing Point in 5 Seconds or Less

The multitude of ever increasing, always available media formats has translated into shorter attention spans. New research has found that when it comes to college students, the attention span is exceedingly short. That means marketers must get to the point quickly when selling to this age group.

Students today are dealing with more media formats than ever before. A CourseSmart survey conducted by Wakefield Research reports that the mobile device ownership rates of college students look like this:

  • Laptop 93%
  • Smartphone 47%
  • iPad 7%
  • Ereader 7%
  • None of these 2%

It’s this generation that also made the phrase ‘three-​screening’ popular. While college students are watching TV, their attention is divided as they tend to other mobile devices:

  • Mobile phone 17%
  • Mobile phone, iPod, laptop and more 19%
  • Mobile phone, iPod, and laptop 25%
  • Mobile phone and laptop 36%

One way to attract attention is to roll out promotional messages through all available channels. And these days, that often means using video. College students respond well to video ads but that’s not enough to guarantee success. Nick Fuller, senior director of marketing at Mr Youth, advises brands not to hide the fact that they are selling. Instead, marketers should focus on making ads “entertaining, up front and on brand.”  Humor helps. But it’s even more important to grab the viewer’s attention within the first 5 seconds. Otherwise, students will focus on whatever else is in front of them at the time. Mr Youth researchers say marketers should consider the example set by Allstate’s ‘Mayhem’ ads. The company’s research finds that college students frequently view these ads on YouTube because they are entertaining, relevant and obviously trying to sell insurance.

[Source: Ads Must Act Fast to Engage College-​Age Multitaskers. Emarketer​.com. 15 Nov. 2011. Web. 6 Dec. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.