Human Attention Span

Last year, Microsoft released some research data that says that we humans have less of an attention span than that of a goldfish. The goldfish reportedly has an attention span of nine seconds, while we humans have substantially degraded from twelve seconds in 2000, to eight seconds today.

The infographic to the right, by Wyzowl, shows this effect. Some of the infographic points include the following:

  • The average office worker will check their email inbox 30 times in an hour (every other minute!)
  • The average person picks up their phone 1500 times in a week (200 times per day!)
  • The average web page will only have 28% of its copy read by the visitor
  • The average page view lasts 10-20 seconds

I think it’s not so much that we have less of an attention span, but we’re so distracted by so many inputs. The phone beeps or buzzes. Our inbox dings. Facebook messenger rings. Text messages appear. All of it demanding our attention now, Now, NOW! If I ignore a text, it dings again in 120 seconds just to make sure I didn’t miss that really important message. *sigh*

dug the dog

Pixar’s Dug the Dog: “SQUIRREL!”

It’s like Dug the Dog in Pixar’s animated movie “Up” who is always distracted by a SQUIRREL! We’re constantly bombarded by all these demands to “pay attention to me!” And frankly, we feel guilty if we don’t react immediately.

Marketing in Our Über-Distracted Society

As marketers, this makes it all very challenging to get our messages across to our potential buyers. People don’t read, they skim. If they don’t “get it” in 10 seconds, they’re out, and they go look at something else that’s shiny.

So what exactly is on the rise and being consumed more and more by our buyers?


In 2015:

  • Mobile data usage rose 69%*
  • 55% of mobile data traffic is from video*
  • Facebook gets 4 billion video views a day, 75% of which are from phones*
  • The number of hours people spent watching videos on mobile is up 100% year over year (YouTube statistics)

* These Are the Digital Trends Everyone in Tech and Advertising Needs to Know According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Report, by Garett Sloane

Again, according to the Infographic above:

  • Average length watched of an internet video: 2.7 minutes (compare that to 8 seconds!)
  • 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read if given a choice

This is compelling, and as I mentioned in last week’s article, it’s one of the four most critical tools to attract the modern buyer – especially for consultants, coaches and sales professionals.

How to Embed a Video in Your Email Newsletter

I get this question every so often. If video is so important, how can I get it into my email newsletter so people will be more engaged?

The short answer is, you can’t. Most email platforms and clients don’t support the HTML5 or embed codes used to play a video.

People don’t read the content of your emails but skim it instead – especially if they’re opening it on a mobile device. If there’s a compelling reason to do something further, then they will, and video helps increase the likelihood that people will click through.

Since you can’t embed the video directly in your email, the one thing you can do is capture a screen image of the video, preferably with the play button in red (it looks more clickable) and simply link it back to your video, a web page or blog post that has the embedded video in it. This is the actual image that I’d put in my newsletter.

Image of video that's clickable

Image of video that’s clickable

To do it on a PC:

  • Pull up your video in YouTube or Vimeo (wherever it is) and hover the mouse over it so the play button lights up
  • Press [Alt][PrtScrn] on the keyboard
  • Open MS Paint or any other graphics program and paste the image in
  • Copy just the video image and paste it into a new document that you save as the graphic.

To do this on a Mac:

  • Pull up your video in YouTube or Vimeo (wherever it is) and hover the mouse over it so the play button lights up
  • Press [Ctrl][Shift][4] on the keyboard
  • Take the cross-hairs and click-drag from the upper left corner to the lower right corner of the video. That will copy the image into your clipboard
  • Paste it into your favorite graphic editing tool and save it as a file

This is very quick to do. Now put the image into your email platform and link it back to your video or landing page.

This serves a couple purposes too. It helps get people TO your target web page, where you hopefully have a strong call-to-action, and you can measure the click-through-rate to test engagement. These are both valuable data points for your marketing efforts.

So get out there, start engaging your audience with a short, compelling video that gives them a much longer attention span than a stupid goldfish.

By the way, two weeks ago, I turned off all email notifications on my cell phone. No more buzzing, vibrating, or beeping when anyone’s email pops in. I have to say my distraction and stress level has actually gone DOWN just with that one setting change. (And congratulations if you actually got this far in this article! You don’t have the attention span of a goldfish! 🙂 )

What have you done to reduce the electronic distractions lately? Tell me in the comments below.