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Attention not views

Every day our brain processes roughly 10,000 messages each day. That’s 10,000 individual pieces of information that it has to analyze, assess and make a decision about. Because of this, our brains have gotten very good at filtering out ‘noise’. When you walked to work this morning you probably walked along a pavement, but how many paving slabs did you step on? Or on the train, how many people got on your carriage with you? Or finally, what was the exact time that you walked in the front door of your office? You know that you saw the answer to all these things yet, if asked about them later, you can probably not recall the answer. This is all to do with how your body receives information and then filters it to give you the most important information.

One of the most famous examples of this is the invisible gorilla experiment (link at the bottom of the article). In the video, there are six people, three in white shirts, three in black shirts. Your task is to count how many passes of the basketball the team in white shirts makes. At the end of the clip, almost everyone says 15. The video then asks, ‘did you see the gorilla?’ What almost everyone misses is a man in a gorilla costume walking across the picture who then thumps his chest a few times and then walks off again.

There are many more in-depth medical papers on this phenomenon but the basic takeaway is that our bodies can take in significantly more bits of information from the world than our brains can actively process. To combat this, our subconscious has got very good at highlighting what it thinks is important and filtering out what it doesn’t. This is where it starts to become very relevant to marketing.

When assessing how well a piece of content is doing often one of the main metrics looked at is reach. But a potential customer seeing a piece of content is not enough; they actually need to consume it. This is where attention, not views, is key. The aim of content should be to get the attention of someone not just to be seen and here’s how we go about it.

  1. Align your content with other contextual content

In other words, have your content appear where it is relevant. There is no point in content for football fans appearing in front of an audience of golfers. Now, this may seem obvious but this mistake is made in more subtle ways more often than you think. For example, billboards often show advertisements with little thought as to where they are appearing and what the demographic of the majority of viewers will be. In a study conducted by the IAS, it was found that ads had a 27% higher retention rate in viewers’ memory if they were relevant to the content the viewer was consuming initially.

  1. Make it stick

It is impossible to know exactly what content and copy your viewers will engage with the most, this is why marketers run split tests on ads. Don’t be afraid to try different things, just remember to read the data to see what is working and what isn’t and capitalise on that

  1. Experiential

This is the principle of putting your content somewhere that is memorable. Often referred to as behind-the-goal posts as ads put behind goalposts will be seen over and over again when replays of a goal are shown. At the extreme end, this is why brands will pay millions of dollars to have a Superbowl halftime ad but on the more conservative end this is why you will likely pay more to have Facebook and Google ads at certain times when traffic is higher

Two other factors to consider are, firstly, that a piece of content typically has 8 seconds to grab someone’s attention so it is important that your content stands out immediately. Remember to think about being different from the rest of the viewer’s timeline. The final factor is that people have far more trust in user-generated content. Try to incorporate it in as many ways as possible from sharing anything about your business to working with happy customers to create content that showcases their pleasure with your business.

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