Mobile: We are all really in the attention game now!

I was away last week in Santiago de Compostela attending the Circom Regional conference where I heard a lot about the different innovations European public service broadcasters are making in terms of their mobile output.

Listening to the presentations got me thinking about something that hit me a while ago and about which I have been meaning to write – ATTENTION.

As we move more and more to mobile, content makers are in an even fiercer battle for the users’ attention. It’s no longer just about competing against other content websites, ecommerce, email, social media etc. We are all really in the attention game now!

Whether it’s making calls, texting, watching videos, emailing, gaming, reading books, banking, listening to music, browsing the web, IM’ing, social networking etc there is so much to occupy a smartphone user’s attention before they even contemplate checking a media org’s app or mobile website.

Commenting on research released earlier this year the Harvard Business review pointed out that people spend only 47 minutes a month ‘seeking news or information’ only 4% of the overall time they spend on their smartphones. For a media org that’s a scary prospect and surely means you have to find ways to aggressively play the attention game. It’s time to work hard to get the user’s time and attention.

Five ways to go about it:

  1. Go social: incorporate social networking elements strongly into your  offering. Give people ways to interact with each other. Encourage it, stimulate it, devote resources to it.
  2. Gamify: Learn from the games industry and introduce the concepts of competition and rewards.
  3. Personalise: Find ways to introduce as much personalisation as possible – location, interests, peer recommendation/referrals.
  4. Be useful: Place an emphasis on content that people really need – practical stuff that’s required every day. Prioritise this and build a core around it.
  5. Entertain: Use your mobile platform to grab some of that time where people just want fluff, eye candy, humour and distraction.

We are not going to boost the amount of time the smartphone user spends on finding news or news discovery so we must push hard into the other areas that interest them more. It’s essential you are very clear about what you’re building when you are working on mobile platforms. Keep the audience in mind at all times and think of ways to disrupt their current behaviour and gain their attention – otherwise you’re just building follies!

4 thoughts on “Mobile: We are all really in the attention game now!

  1. Hi Blathnaid, good to see you in Santiago and thanks for your contribution there. The debate that you’ve just started is also a great contribution and I others will follow.
    Stories for me are still the big crowd puller but the delivery, and getting the attention of people to watch or listen to them, is the key. The conventions are being turned upside down and I’m beginning to see that the big content drivers, Google and FB, are the ones who are ahead of the game on this. It’s a bit like American movies and mini-series, they have the greater market share and have dominated entertainment for decades. Glen has met with Google and it seems news is their next target. If they start news feeds I can see it working and consequently less need to visit traditional news sites. How do you compete with them. More regional,more localised as suggested in the 5 points?
    You’ve grabbed my attention because it’s personal, relevant and interesting to me. (Now if you’d offered me a tin of biscuits I would have written more). Looking forward to this blog growing, there’ll be some ideas coming from it I’m sure. K

  2. Thanks Karol! Some interesting thoughts there. I think personalisation using the factors of regional, localisation and relevancy are key in terms of mobile. What RTV is doing in this space is really interesting.

  3. Interesting thoughts!

    On 3: yes, but keep it simple! Not everyone wants to personalise. Give them a good experience too.

    And maybe 6: Use push-notifications ans be careful with them. It can work as a good reminder for your app if used well.

    And I’d add even a 7: Promote and never stop promoting! Best way tot do it is to give your users a good reason to also use the website or mobile app.

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