In 2017, attention is precious. In fact you could say it is the scarcest resource of the 21st century. We are living in an attention-based economy, but people’s ability to focus has been lost. Technology is omnipresent in our lives and it’s changed the way we behave. Whilst it has opened up a world of possibilities, it has also had a negative effect on consumers’ attention spans and is distracting us. We are living in a state of constant multi-tasking and multi-screening and switching between activities makes us 40% less productive.
A big issue is that people can’t get to ‘flow state’, the state in which someone is completely absorbed in what they are doing and loses sense of space and time, because of constant distractions they face.
And technology design is cultivating our addiction and feeding the economy of distractions. How many hours have people wasted away on the latest candy crushing game?
As a result of these distracting digital devices, society has changed and brands are trying to adapt. We are now seeing brands being more creative and clever in creating campaigns that works to the inevitable ad skipping.
In addition, it has given brands an opportunity to counter the constant demand for attention by harnessing technology for good and providing people the much needed tools for escapism.
A quest for calm
The omnipresence of technology is leading to a digital detox and 61% of Britons say they feel the need to disconnect every once in a while. People are then looking for calm to help them focus. Some brands are using silence as a tool to help their audience concentrate. For example, creating films without dialogue, removing music from shops or creating products blocking out external distractions.
Also, whether at home, at work or in public, open shared spaces can increase distraction and are sometimes negative for mental health and creative flow. We are seeing more spaces encouraging time alone to concentrate and focus on an experience. From private work stations to individual booths in restaurants, companies are starting to realise the need for time away from distractions to enable people to have peace and quiet.
Some companies are also adjusting their branding to suit consumers decreasing focus using quick glance design. Therefore, minimalism in interior design and also typography can be a solution to fight against distraction.
Technology to focus
Despite all the many distracting apps on the market, technology can actually also help to maximise productivity and wellbeing.
VR is a great tool that provides an immersive experience to put people into a story rather than just telling them the story. They aren’t able to experience any distractions because they are wearing a headset blocking out all other visual stimulants. Brands are able to use VR to deliver a strong message that people can become a part of. The technology can also be used to improve a person’s wellbeing for example, with virtual wellness centres.
Finally, we are seeing a rise of responsible interaction design that aims to enhance humanity rather than maximising consumers’ screen time. For example, one app, part of the Decompressed Design project, only allows you to see the previous message someone has sent you rather than the whole conversation, ensuring that people are in the moment when talking – much like a face-to-face conversation – rather than being able to not pay much attention.
So it’s time to opt for sustainable technology and help people to calm down their minds. Brands have the opportunity to ensure that there is less to distract, and letting their brand messages truly get the attention they deserve.
Written by Oriane DeMontravel, strategic and creative assistant, Ketchum London
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