Archives for posts with tag: attention


There are many terrible DJ’s out there. I know, because I am one of them.

What makes a terrible DJ?

When you start out as a DJ, nobody pays attention to you. You play at times when nobody wants to dance and everybody just wants to drink and socialize.

What do you do?

You push the power button to 150%. You play hits, bang it out. No interludes. No build-ups. No rest. Bang. Bang. Bang.

The result? You tire out the audience, they’re spent by the time the main act starts, and your reputation is ruined forever. Everybody can bang out hits after hits. That wasn’t your job. Your job was to take people on a journey, to get them ready for the main act. The empty dance floor pushed you to a place you didn’t want to go to. But you did.

In the digital marketing world, we all face this dilemma.

Both work.

You can put the pedal to the medal and try to get as much attention as possible. No matter what people say, it works. Over time, the returns diminish and you have to push harder and harder. Louder and louder.

Or you can start your marketing performance, wait for somebody to listen and take this person on a journey. Others might stop and listen. That’s secondary because your goal is to seduce one. And let them spread the word for you.

Unlike DJ’s, there’s nothing wrong with either approach. However, you need to stick with your choice. You can’t transform from a coffee house into a rave club. Or vice versa.

Just look at your brand and ask yourself: Do I want to get as much attention as possible? Or, do I want to give as much attention as possible?

Only you can answer that.

Ask any husband and he will admit: We’re lousy at noticing stuff. Especially pathetic when it comes to little details: shoes, jewelry, nuances in hair style. This is not limited to men/husbands; it’s a common human flaw.

Watch the video.

Around 50% of all participants fail to notice that when a person stops to ask them for direction and temporarily disappears behind a passing distraction, they reappear as someone else entirely.

We have limited capacity for attention

And it  gets worse when a moving object distracts the eye. When we focus on one thing, we become completely oblivious of all but that one specific thing.

No wonder banner ads perform terrible. Humans just don’t have the capacity to process that much visual information. We’re focused on getting a task done, not process additional information. And, what we’re processing is not valuable to brands. Millions are visiting the Yahoo! homepage each and every day. Multiple times. Even if you have the best animation and visual cues, a small share will even remember the kind of ad that was running. A tiny fraction will remember the vertical. And only 5 will remember the product name. 3 work for the agency, 2 for the brand.

Seriously, we’re just not designed to process this information in a meaningful way.

You will fail as a digital advertiser and succeed as a digital publisher

Think content. Think value. Think utility. Think being helpful. Think being a support system. And forget about chasing them. Instead, attract them with enticing content and interesting stories. Re-learn the art of storytelling and explore the science of journalism. Become a “real” voice with a POV, expressed through bold content.

You have no choice. Many will flock to great content. Nobody pays attention to your great online ad.


You’re at a cocktail party, engaged in a conversation. Suddenly, you get interrupted by someone. He’s making an effort to take your attention away from your conversation. Since you’re polite person, you pay attention for a period of time, mildly annoyed and always the thought in mind: How can I get back to that initial conversation and make the intruder go away?

20 minutes later, you wander around, looking for new people to engage with. Interesting pieces of a conversation get your attention, an interesting social object people gather around, something worthwhile to give attention to. Slowly, you get drawn into the conversation, to be fully engaged within a few minutes.

There is a huge difference between taking away attention and giving attention. When we take away attention, it really doesn’t belong to us. We didn’t earn the attention, we just grabbed it. But when you give attention to something, it becomes part of our being. The attention was earned, thereby freely given, and this creates a feeling of belonging and ownership.

Bad marketing takes away attention. It uses every trick in the book to get my attention: Headlines, hidden ‘Close’ buttons, pop-ups increased volume when the show switches to advertising. Bad marketing knows it has to revert to these tricks to get any attention. It’s the kind of angry attention an annoying intruder deserves. Bad marketers have no other choice. That’s the only way to get in front of people. Bad marketing is based in fear. And everyone knows it. Bad marketers get really defensive when they are challenged.

Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed. Good marketing is based in confidence. Confidence that we don’t need cheap tricks to get your attention. Confidence that we will deliver a marketing product that adds value.

Bad or good marketing: Both get the attention they deserve.