7 ways to capture the Fickle Attention Spans of University Students

Aug 15,2017

Back in 2000, the average human attention span was 12 seconds. In 2015, this went down to 8.25 seconds - less than a goldfish's span of 9! And with the cluttered digital space, it's harder to stand out as a key brand or product offering with 18+ years old. In the words of Satya Nadella: "the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention"
As avid internet users, students are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 forms of advertising every day! What does this mean for online advertising? That the windows of engagement are constantly shrinking! 
So how do you break through the clutter and noise? Well here are 7 ways to grab students' attention by creating an experience that resonates with them:
1. People dislike feeling that they are being persuaded, meaning that they will instinctively pull back from brands with very prominent branding. This 'branding avoidance' is embedded into people's subconsciousness, as such create content or ads that allow people to think for themselves about what they've just seen, read or heard. Leverage this sort of engagement by inciting a dialogue between your brand and the students that you are targeting.
2. Eliciting emotions of surprise quickly followed by joy with your content and ad are immediate ways to gain students' attentions and retaining it. 
3. Content that induces some sort of emotional roller-coaster in viewers is more likely to increase engagement, as providing an ad that induces joy, then takes it away and then brings it back surprises audiences. This increases their level of attention and engagement, but producing shocking content may inhibit digital sharing. 
4. The digital lifestyle has a negative impact on prolonged focus. Almost 20% of online viewers leave an ad content within the first 10 seconds. That means advertisers and marketers need to make an immediate impact before students switch off from their message. 
5. Students also struggle to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed, as they constantly seek the thrill of the new. As such, marketeers should focus on creating immersive, multi touch points experiences to compensate for this drop off in attention. 
6. Students, being early technology adopters and heavy social media users, front load their attention  and have frequent intermittent bursts of high attention span. They know immediately if something is worth engaging with or not and need less time processing things to memory. As such, native advertising, branded content and informative, shareable and entertaining content are the best mediums to use. 
7. Finally, because digital native students crave novelty, brand messaging should be clear and straight to the point as there is no time to build a story to garner immediate attention from thrill seekers. As such, crafting a headline that says it all is of utmost importance. Brands also need to think about how students will benefit from paying attention to their message and how it will make their life better, as this ties into their need for instant gratification. 

Marketing to students? Let’s help you reach these elusive 18 to 25 years old!

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