How Brands Can Still Win Over Customers as Attention Spans Decrease on Social

Great mobile creative and personalized content lifts engagement

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Facebook users spend an average of 1.7 seconds with any piece of mobile content on the platform, compared to 2.5 seconds on desktop. Those interactions become even briefer with younger audiences, and they are growing shorter all the time. This presents a significant challenge for brands as they increasingly using mobile as part of their marketing mix.

Milana Saric

However, research from Nielsen has shown that 38 percent of brand recall, 23 percent of brand awareness and 25 percent of purchase intent is driven by video impressions shorter than two seconds, so decreasing attention spans aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

In this new world of shrinking and distracted engagement, here’s what brands can do to maximize the impact of their exposure with customers on social media platforms.

Relevant and Useful Ads

Pairing compelling creative with personalized content is more important than ever. 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases or knows their purchase history. Beyond that, 33 percent of users say they would spend more time with advertising content if they could customize it to their interests.

71 percent of respondents prefer ads tailored to their interests and shopping habits, and consumer engagement with online advertising increases three-fold when ads are personalized. Mobile further magnifies that effect. While most traditional marketing methods force advertisers to share the same message to one large audience, social channels offer the unique opportunity to personalize messaging and creative for individual consumers.

Nothing makes users abandon an online shopping cart faster than a poor check-out experience.

In addition to creating personalized content, it’s imperative to design ads that get your brand’s key points across fast, using the right creative units.

Vertical ad formats have grown in significance in recent years, offering advertisers 100 percent of screen real estate—a valuable commodity in a world driven by endless feeds of content. Because ads take up the entire screen, there is more incentive for people to open them and get the full audio-visual experience. Attention is entirely focused on your brand, even for just a few seconds.

Faster Load Times

A recent Google study found that 53 percent of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. In a world of quickly declining attention spans, a slow-loading website represents the ultimate sin. It is therefore imperative that a brand’s website back up its paid social activity. Nothing makes users abandon an online shopping cart faster than a poor check-out experience. Make sure all your destinations are mobile friendly and easy to use, considering not only the ad itself but also the journey users take after they click.

People increasingly turn to social platforms for inspiration and ideas. Offer them tips, advice or instructions in addition to showcasing your brand or product. You should make it easy for users to take action after seeing your ad. Many social channels have started introducing shoppable formats, inspiring users to investigate a product, research it, compare it and then eventually buy it, all while using the platform of their choice. There is no longer a need to scour the entire internet to make a purchase.

To break through the noise in a world of increased scrolling speeds and fragmented customer focus, brands must tell an interesting story with their ads, ensuring that the messaging is equal parts engaging and useful.

Milana Saric (@milana_saric) is a client strategy director in Adaptly’s London office.