Read Through This For More Than Six Seconds

Original article written for TEDxKea, available here: http://tedxkea.com/altering-digital-consumption-paradigm/

Skærmbillede 2014-10-24 kl. 01.38.09

Illustration : Dovile Montvydaite

 

Sports fan, brand activation manager and digital marketing ace Stefan Pflug is of the impression that ”When you offer fans something they truly consider valuable, you earn commercial airtime.”

This should be relatively straightforward. After all, businesses tailoring their products and services to the tastes of their customers is nothing new, and is especially evident in the digital age of the limitless possibilities of customer-advertiser interactions. Within this epoch, features such as site analytics and search engine optimisation functions allow advertisers to form a realistic frame of the nature of their consumers and their behavioral traits. Within the frames of this digital abundance, it would seem that possibilities are seemingly endless for consumers and producers of content alike.

Denmark is among the top five countries with the highest number of broadband users per capita, according to statistics from the World Bank. 90 % of our citizens are classified as “active internet users”. We are a connected country, to say the least.

But there is something missing in this world wide web of connectedness. “Nowadays, people consume digitally for six seconds before moving on […] This is not healthy, not for the consumer, nor for the advertiser,” remarks Simon Pflug. From our own lives as students and young, throbbing hearts in a pulsating city, we can all draw parallels with this statement. Yes, it is true that we are surrounded by a wide range of media through which to express ourselves and to access content – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, etc. are all examples of this. Hardly a day goes by without the development and launch of a new mobile application that changes the manner in which we view and consume information.

We are merely a click away from being able to trigger online actions that reflect who we are and the way we think as consumers. Clicktivism is but one example of this: the act or habit of using the Internet as a primary means of influencing public opinion on matters of politics, religion or other social concerns has become a widespread norm of the digitally native society.

However, with the flood of such platforms comes inundation with little immersion. Hyperchoice is the buzzword that the marketing lingo has chosen to brand this phenomenon – a condition where the large number of available options forces us to make repeated choices that may drain psychological energy and diminish our abilities to make smart decisions. Whilst the implications of hyperchoice areyet to be properly and documented, one can suggest that too much of a good thing is not always positive. For instance, one critique of clicktivism could be that a lot of it is purely symbolic – “Liking” brands, causes and affiliations on social media is a virtual version of a truth that does not necessarily reflect a social reality. The web is littered with virtual manifestations of this sort – whether they are apparent in Facebook likes or in the six-second attention span theory that Stefan Pflug refers to. There is little sustainability within a frame of digital consumption of this sort – for advertisers and consumers alike, and this needs to change.

We need a new consumption paradigm. It is important that we look into why the attention spans of digital natives on their web pilgrimages are as brief and as short-term as they are. Can we forge better links between content and those accessing it? All of this, and more, will be discussed at TEDxKEA’s EMERGE event on December 11th, where you will witness TED talks that will both captivate, entertain and get you to pose critical questions regarding your views on digital media.

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