The way consumers engage with content has fundamentally changed over the last decade and continues to evolve at breakneck speed. The digital revolution has shifted our content-consumption behaviors in profound ways.
Consumer Attention is Divided
The majority of media interactions involve viewing content on the main screen while also using a second screen. One study showed that when Millennials are consuming content, they switch their attention 27 times per hour; Boomers switch 17 times per hour. Multitasking is now the norm, not the exception. When people multitask, their understanding and retention drop; although they think they’re paying proper attention and performing well, they aren’t.
The average consumer requires 5 to 7 impressions of a brand before they will remember it. According to Pam Moore, “You need to put your brand out there for people to recognize it. With a plethora of brands on the market, people need to see your logo more than 5 times to be able to connect it with your company. We suggest taking advantage of social media and professional branding techniques to send a consistent yet dynamic brand message to consumers every day.”
Consumers Have Become Digital Omnivores
Brands cannot afford to underestimate the rise of the digital omnivore–a consumer who owns and uses multiple Internet-enabled devices to search for and consume content. According to the NPD Group, as of 2013, the average U.S. Internet household had 5.7 devices–and that number continues to grow. People are continually adding screens to their lives.
Consumers Have a Mobile-First Orientation
Increasingly, content consumption takes place on the move via a mobile device, whether a consumer is inside or outside the home. In fact, one in every three online media minutes is spent on a mobile device; people are spending more time on mobile applications than on the wider web. This means people are able to have more frequent, and shorter, content engagements while they’re on the go. But since content is now often available across channels–for example, on the web, in apps or on tablet editions of traditional print magazines–consumers are able to shift their consumption from one device to another seamlessly.
Consumers Live in a Visual & Tactile World
People are returning to a visually centered world, similar in some ways to what existed before written language. Images and videos engage us, inspire us, and move us to share them with others. One study from MIT shows that the brain takes only 13 milliseconds to identify and find meaning in a visual. Therefore, in today’s multitasking world, images are not only powerful–they’re imperative. Visual shorthand has become an art, and it has taken on a central role in content creation. Omnipresent icons, symbols, and signs guide us. This represents an opportunity for marketers to reach across borders and languages with universally understood visual messages.
Concurrently, thanks to touch-enabled devices, people have gravitated towards more tactile media consumption experiences. The gesture navigation elements of Apple’s iOS have been profoundly and wildly successful. They have helped both young children and elderly adults effectively use tablets and smartphones without needing instructions or how-to manuals. In fact, most digital devices and their supporting operating systems are considered a failure if successful usage requires reading any directions.