Do I have your #eMAttention? Good.

The eMarketer Attention! daylong event on Tuesday didn’t disappoint. I had the opportunity to hear from many amazing speakers covering the challenges we as marketers face today: the fragmented attention of today’s consumer.

Here’s a recap on many of the great topics covered and data presented:

Geoff Ramsey, co-founder and chief innovation officer of eMarketer, kicked things off depicting the epic battle for consumer attention in a fragmented, real-time, mobile world. Geoff emphasized that mobile isn’t just a medium. On average, people check their phones 46x per day while a 1/5 of millennials check their phones over 10x per hour! This equates to 12 hours per day that the average American spends with media. 86% of internet time on mobile goes to apps with 63% of smartphone owners using only one to five apps per day. Moreover, attentions are split across multiple devices at the same time, and it’s only going to get more fragmented as the number of devices grows. And if that’s not enough, the adult attention span has declined to 8.2 seconds; that’s worse than a goldfish at 9 seconds! Also noteworthy, 26% of internet users in 2016 use ad blocking with millennials at a much higher rate around 40%.

The above stats don’t paint a pretty picture for marketers, so how do we move forward? As Geoff Ramsey stated, understanding the attention equation is key.

Attention = Right Time + Right Place + Value

The right time and right place only gives you context. Value is the critical component that will attract attention. Producing great content will attract consumers to you rather than distracting them.

Next, we heard from Jonah Berger, professor at the Wharton School and author of “Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior” and “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.” Jonah delved into the invisible influence of attention. Social influence shapes everything we do, it has the ability to attract, but can also repel. Here are some of the highlights of the key drivers of influence:

  • Imitation – We non-consciously mimic behaviors of those around us. This creates trust, affiliation, and makes us feel part of the same tribe.
  • Differentiation – We also have a drive to be different and stand-out, this is particularly strong among Millennials. However, being different doesn’t drive success, being optimally distinct does.
  • Motivation – We need to feel close enough to reaching a goal to be motivated to achieve it. The further behind we get, the less motivated we will be if it feels unobtainable.

Influence isn’t about one person changing behaviors, it’s more so about a lot of people enforcing a behavior. Think impact versus reach. Two key next steps for us as marketers are to spot influence and understand how to use it.

Attendees also had the privilege to hear from Matthew Corbin, head of global product marketing for Facebook’s Global Marketing Solutions business. Matthew enlightened us on the main priorities at Facebook right now: Video and Communication and Messenger. He also informed us that there will be a day where our newsfeeds will just be video. People are consuming more live and faster with eight billion video views every day on Facebook. Adults between the ages of 18 and 25 scroll 5x faster than the 35 and older crowd. Mobile offers new challenges and opportunities. Mobile devices of people logged in changes the targeting equation leading to highly predictable delivery. Matthew challenged all of us to remember to disrupt ourselves, for Facebook that disruption was live video. Facebook is not the world’s largest broadcaster, but they have the opportunity to be the largest network of broadcasters. Ultimately everyone can be their own broadcaster including brands and marketers. His wise closing statement, “The reality is the consumer has moved on, we need to meet the consumer where they are, not where they’ve been.”

Without skipping a beat next on stage was Rajiv Chandrasekaran, senior vice president of public affairs at Starbucks. Rajiv is the executive producer of Starbucks social impact media initiatives and the question he posed was, “Can brands be the next great media companies?” At Starbucks, they recognized the need to be multi-platformed and was able to turn a lengthy essay into five-minute videos and then further condense the videos for social distribution.  Rajiv and his team recognized a desire for solutions-oriented storytelling. The Upstanders first season is noticeably devoid of any Starbucks branding; the emphasis is placed on the social impact with the driver being corporate social responsibility.

Arguably the most attention-grabbing session of the day was the panel of Gen Zers, ranging in age from 12 to 17. The burning question to this group was what captures their attention? The resounding message was to keep it short and be authentic. 88% of teens check their devices at least hourly and 72% feel the need to immediately respond to texts. These teens are literally always on their devices with the one exception being when they are sleeping! Surprisingly this group is less likely to use ad blockers than millennials.

The final session of the day ended with Bryan Yeager, senior analyst at eMarketer, and Derek Belch, a former Stanford football player, and assistant coach, co-founder, and CEO of STRIVR. Bryan showcased why virtual reality is now actual reality:

  • Faster computer and graphics processing
  • Powerful smartphones and array of sensors
  • More vibrant and detailed mobile displays
  • Improved optics for capture and viewing
  • Easier to use and more accessible creative tools

The harsh reality is that this space has a long way to go and virtual reality market estimates vary significantly between researchers. With that said, Derek was able to take us through actual use cases that are generating real return for his company, STRIVR. They started with 360-degree video and interactive to simulate games. A great way to train your mind without affecting your body, virtual reality training. STRIVR is also engaged with two Fortune 100 companies who want to use VR to improve the workplace environment, so the applications certainly go beyond the sports arena. Derek reminded us that as a brand, our goal is to tell a story that evokes empathy and compels action.

So there you have it, the highlights from this year’s eMarketer Attention! For more information about eMarketer Attention visit the conference site.