Marketing Needs Attention.
A number of recent posts have focussed on the supply-side of attention. There are a number of things to consider.
Attention: In the face of rampant demand for our attention, the nature of that attention is changing. It's not continuous partial attention, which has increasingly proven to be unsatisfactory. Rather it is intensive attention. This can be a fast burst of intensive attention or a much longer, absorbed, interactive attention. But in both timescales, we are increasingly moving towards a binary world - you get intensive attention or you get totally ignored. Knowing this affects how you go about getting that attention.
Approach: Your approach must encourage people actively to absorb what you're saying. There are many elements to this, but what it does not include is the recent trend in UK talkshows. Here ad breaks have been moved from the end to the middle of guest interviews in the belief that absorption in an interview will translate to absorption in an ad break for fear of missing the interview's continuation. The latter will potentially get intensive attention, the ad break however will be totally ignored unless it is specifially accessible to the viewer. (Iain makes a similar point about download times today.)
Accessibilty: Making content glanceable seems to me to have a lot to do with knowing what it is that our brains process first. I've blogged in the past about how colours are processed at different speeds and how it is surprising that retail stores are not filled with yellow signage, but it's also a question of whether a visual, a headline or a combination of both is most effective at grabbing attention. However, while there is a debate to be had about whether dialogue (written or spoken) is necessary in a visually literate age, let's not forget that some people are visually stimulated and others verbally stimulated.
Attitude: Just as important as the hard-wiring of the brain in registering attention is the mindset of the person you're trying to attract. Context is all. Google adwords work so well in a search contaxt because the act of searching implies a better than average chance that the searcher is closer to a purchase state of mind. Other web 2.0 businesses that are dependent on ad revenue might be in a less happy position because the personalised ads that are generated are targetted on a word in the text or someone's comment or social network preferences, none of which, to my mind, speaks directly to a likelihood of the purchase mindset prevailing.
The nature of attention has changed - marketing has to follow suit.