Solving the Goldfish Conundrum

The Shortening Human Attention Span and What it Means for Marketers

According to research represented in this infographic, the attention span of humans has markedly decreased over the last 15 years. So much in fact that scientists have determined that our attention spans are now less than that of goldfish, which is nine seconds. No wonder marketing seems so difficult these days.

Humans are a forgetful lot and easily distracted…

  • An office worker will check their email inbox an average of 30 times every hour
  • Smartphone users pick up their phone an average of 1,500 times a day
  • Website visitors will read an average of 28% of the words presented, or less
  • The average time spent viewing a web page is less than a minute, often only 10-20 seconds

So what does this mean for marketers? What are some effective ways to keep people’s attention when we can’t even concentrate as long as a goldfish?

  • For one, you need to be clear in your messaging. Think back to English 101 – state your point, support it, and draw a conclusion. No need to dance around the subject. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Make things on your web page easy to find. The less looking around someone has to do, the better. Less is more.
  • Appeal to consumer desires and tell stories. If you haven’t met Kindra Hall yet, check her out. She’s the storyteller master.
  • Use rich media like video and make the first 8 seconds attention-grabbing. The average length watched of a single Internet video is 2.7 minutes. 59 percent of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text when both is available.

With human attention spans dwindling, what are some other ways to engage your audience and keep people’s attention?

Self-Produced Video

Producing quality video can be challenging; it’s time consuming and can be costly to do professionally, plus not everyone is comfortable on camera. Not all video has to have you as the subject, but of course if you are comfortable on camera and can do it swiftly then you may want to consider that. Otherwise, best to find a local studio you can rent, and even hire professional actors.

Video Creation Tools

A simple Google search for “video creation apps” or “video creation services” will lead to thousands of options. From do-it-yourself online apps such as PowToon, GoAnimate, and VideoScribe to make your own animated videos, to phone apps such as Spark Camera which I personally use and really enjoy. Spark lets you create simple 45-second videos where you can record clips on your phone, move them around in a time sequence, trim them, and audio and video filters. This is real useful for producing on-the-fly semi-pro grade videos.

Social Video Apps

Another approach is to leverage the many free social video tools that exist such as Snapchat, Periscope, and Vine? Each of these tools offers different features that make it possible to produce and publish video content on the fly and ship it out to your audience. Of course, you have to build your audience on each channel, but you have to do that anyway. 

Many people are anxious or afraid about the idea of putting themselves on camera, but with these social video tools, you don’t have to be the subject. You can be the director/producer focusing on other people or subjects because on each the camera can point either direction. Whether you are comfortable on camera or not, these tools are simple, useful, and highly powerful in the right hands.


  1. What are you doing now to produce rich media content that keeps people’s attention spans longer?
  2. What fears or anxieties do you have that keep you from getting on camera?

About the Author

Ryan Gerardi
Creative, resourceful, and resilient B2B sales and marketing technologist who works with people and businesses on a variety of levels to help elevate their game, their brand, and their businesses.
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