The Half-the-Time Show

The Half-the-Time Show

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Gen Z’s Attention Span for Ads is Shorter Than Ever

Welcome to this month’s edition of our newsletter “If Brands Put People First” where we pop up in your inbox monthly with our analysis of campaigns, advertisements, and commercials from brands that we think could make a major impact if they used real people, with real stories, to achieve real results.

Before we get into it, we wanted to celebrate the opportunities we had in 2022 to partner with amazing brands. Together, we shared authentic stories to millions of Americans across the country. Check out People First’s brand brochure for a closer look at these partnerships.

In this month’s newsletter, and just in time for all of your post-Super Bowl ad debates, we take a look at how Gen Z’s attention span for advertisements is less than half the time it has been for previous generations, and how paying close attention to this shift can help you get more bang for your buck and create more impactful content.

The Play Clock Runs Down on Long Form Advertising

Super Bowl season has come and gone, and while the only things most Americans love more than the Super Bowl are Super Bowl ads, recent research shows that Gen Z is much less responsive to large-scale and long-form advertising than members of previous generations. Has the clock finally run down on the mighty Super Bowl ad?

That might be calling the game a bit prematurely, but it is an opportunity to take a look at the traditional advertising playbook and hone in on how shifts in the attention spans of younger people should inform the way you think about your online content.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of some traditional Super Bowl advertising spots:

  1. The run times tend to be on the longer side, averaging between 15 and 30 seconds, and no expense is spared — the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad this year was $7 million;
  2. They seek to build excitement by inviting the viewer to commit to this longer run time in exchange for an unexpected, dazzling, or humorous payoff;
  3. They often rely on megawatt star power to generate interest and memorability.

The Gen Z Playbook

Now, let’s take a look at the game plan that Gen Z prizes in advertising:

  1. Most members of Gen Z have an attention span for ads of 1.3 seconds; that’s right: 1.3. seconds — they aren’t interested in sticking around for a 30 second payoff.
  2. Most members of Gen Z crave authenticity, and traditionally showy Super Bowl ads tend to lack it;
  3. Members of Gen Z are much less enthusiastic about celebrity culture than members of previous generations, and if you can name three Super Bowl ads that didn’t feature a megawatt superstar this year, we’ll let you write next month’s newsletter.

So why do these stats matter when you’re thinking about microinfluencer marketing?

Well, for a start, more members of Gen Z use TikTok than of any other generation. Thanks to the scrolling design of most social media platforms — including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok — and the manual scrubbing feature of YouTube, most members of Gen Z also view ads as easily skippable and entirely optional. This means you have only — that’s right: 1.3 seconds — in which to grab and keep their attention.

Gen Z is also significantly more aware of where dollars are being spent and how they could be spent differently. Imagine how many microinfluencers you could hire with $7 million!

So here’s the key to mastering the Gen Z playbook: while Super Bowl ads might still rule the airwaves each February, your online content will score more points when it makes an impact within the first 1-2 seconds and doesn’t get bogged down by expensive spokespeople, inflexible processes, or high-end workflows; remember, simple, honest, and authentic stories are more impactful than showy star power.

There’s the whistle, and that’s the end of halftime: now get out there and show them what you’ve got!

That’s the power of putting people first in your marketing.

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