Attention is the New Currency: Think Differently

According to the American Marketing Association article, Why your Customer’s Attention is the Scarcest Resource in 2017, the average consumer is exposed to 10,000 brand messages a day, and that number is ever-growing. The same article states that the average consumer switches screens up to 21 times an hour and has an attention span of a measly eight seconds. We live in a world where brands are constantly vying for our attention. Our environment is so saturated with advertisements and colorful messages that are supposed to be attention-grabbing that we end up simply tuning most of them out.

Think about it. How many billboards did you pay attention to on your way to work today? How many sponsored social media posts did you look at and engage with before seeing the word sponsored in the corner and deciding to move on. How many radio ads did you listen to and can recall at this moment? The answer is probably a number nowhere near the 10,000 you’ll see today.

Understanding these truths can help us realize a new one, which is, “attention is the new currency.” This was a favorite phrase of the professor in a social media class I took a few semesters ago, and it stuck with me because of how absolutely true it is. As I’m sitting at my desk typing this blog post, I can maybe recall three or four of the 10,000 advertisements I was exposed to yesterday, and I’m sure that holds true for many of the people reading this post right now too.

Along with these facts comes the bad news, which is, unless you’re doing something genuinely groundbreaking many of your company’s messages are probably getting lost in the clutter. However, the good news is that it’s not very difficult to break through the advertising clutter to gain consumers’ attention. All it takes is a little more creativity and a bit more work.

If you’re willing to spend the money, it is painfully easy to create a billboard for your company with either your picture, or a picture of your family, or a picture of your office staff with your company’s name and maybe a catchy saying. I know you know exactly the kind of billboard I’m talking about. You can’t think of a specific example; you can’t remember exactly what it was for, but you know you’ve seen what I’m talking about, and therein lies the problem. Millions of these billboards exist, and all they seem to do is blend into the background. If you want your billboard to stand out, you have to think differently. For example, look at this billboard for a safe driving campaign from the Colorado State Patrol:


This design turned a very commonly seen ad space into something eye-catching and different. Billboards are just one example of a standard advertising medium that can be made interesting. This same concept can be applied to newspaper and magazine ads, television ads, social media ads, and virtually any other form of media you can think of. The key to cutting through the clutter is to remember to THINK DIFFERENTLY!

This was the first part of a two-part blog post. Stay tuned for part two, where I will discuss the importance of storytelling in your company’s advertising.