Attention Deficit Disorder Is The New Epidemic

Once upon a time people paid attention to the programming, and maybe a few of the better commercials, on TV. Popular shows could also be counted on to deliver a massive audience. But those days are long gone.
According to a joint ANA/Forrester survey, television viewing is at an all time high today. The average U.S. viewer watches 4 hours and 49 minutes of television per day–up 20 percent from a decade ago. But the abundance of television viewing options has greatly fragmented the audience and consumers are increasingly multitasking when the television is on.
This new reality–TV as background noise–has led advertisers to believe that television’s effectiveness is declining.
This is not an argument for another type of more engaging media. I don’t think it matters which medium you choose to run messages in, people are overwhelmed with the volume of information they’re asked to process today. The Web is certainly no better than TV at holding one’s attention. Far from it.
Events, sponsorship deals, product placement and brand-sponsored content are probably the best options today when it comes to holding one’s attention. But even then, people really just want to be left to alone, even by the cleverest of pitchmen.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.