TheGrill 2015: Viacom Scratch SVP Andrew Glasgow on Navigating Consumers’ Short Attention Spans (Video)

Relationship between brands and consumers explored at TheWrap’s sixth annual Media Leadership Conference

Andrew Glasgow, senior vice president of Viacom Scratch, dove into the “crisis of attention” facing the entertainment industry on Monday at TheGrill, TheWrap’s sixth annual Media Leadership Conference.

The bad news? There is more to see, do and be a part of in the entertainment space than ever before, which means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to capitalize on the content they’re offering. The good news? The results of Viacom’s first-ever attention study offer statistics to help companies navigate the ever-changing media landscape.

“Our job has never been more challenging, but the reward is bigger and better than ever,” said Glasgow while relaying how perception is shaped by both experience and memory.

Thirty percent of people will give up a good night’s sleep to watch their favorite shows, while 61 percent of the things people most remember are things they experienced with other people.

Additionally, the study found that 75 percent said their ability to pay attention is getting better or staying constant, 70 percent feel they are paying the right amount of attention to the things in their lives, and 81 percent are intentionally limiting the amount of attention they give to various media.

Glasgow mentioned the oft-cited “fear of missing out.” He noted the success of the popular podcast “Serial,” which “brought an old-school audience to a new-school platform” and captured the nation’s attention in the process.

Glasgow added that “Serial” remains the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads in iTunes history, averaging 1 million downloads a month.

The study applied the science of attention to the marketing discipline. Informed by biometric audience analysis, quantitative surveys, and interviews with expert practitioners, the findings will be used by Viacom and its partners to help facilitate deep connections with consumers.

Glasgow described Viacom Scratch as a creative consultancy within Viacom that uses its research on consumer connection and audience insight to solve problems for its partners’ businesses.

Viacom will work the Yale Center for Customer Insights to conduct new research surrounding intent, aspiration, and media consumption, and with Spotify to apply advanced insights to user engagement with content and experiences.

“When fans love content, participation ensues,” said Glasgow, who noted that when fans turn passion into action, wonderful things can happen. While Glasgow said that fandom is how people express themselves these days, attention isn’t binary and it’s actually now harder to measure on a massive scale.

By measuring the brainwaves in hundreds of people, Viacom learned that different genres of content can create different kinds of attention states.

The results of Viacom’s Attention Study also serve as the basis for an interactive exhibit inside Viacom’s headquarters in New York that runs through Oct. 8. The experience includes initial biometric research on how different TV show genres impact attention; a multitasking test, which neuroscientists say only 2.5 percent of the population can do effectively; a virtual reality demonstration of fully-immersive Viacom content experiences; examples of fandom expressed in increasingly rich ways; and case studies on breakthrough content and marketing and the link between context and attention.

In applying the science of attention to marketing to help Viacom’s partners connect with consumers in more impactful ways, Scratch has determined that engagement is more important that the number of ads viewed or impressions delivered, and that collective attention, context and communities of fans are key elements in relationships between brands and consumer relationships.

Other findings from Scratch‘s Attention Study, which can be found here, include:

Collective Attention:

  • 76 percent consider themselves part of a fan community
  • Almost 2/3 of millennials discover new things from their fan community
  • 75 percent are influenced to watch content because “a lot of people are talking about it”

Deep Connection:

  • Almost 50 percent would give up a week of social media in order to not miss the series finale of their favorite TV show; almost 1/3 would be willing to give up a night’s sleep for it
  • Nearly 25 percent have binge-watched their favorite show for eight or more hours

Attention and Distraction:

  • 10 percent or less feel they are spending too little time on phones, emails, smartphone games, and social media
  • 20 percent feel they are paying too little attention to celebrities
  • 38 percent of Millennials said “Seeing someone naked” was distracting, but nearly twice that number said “getting a text message” was distracting

Source: Scratch Attention Study, Summer 2015: 2,667 Total Respondents