2015 Outlook: Peak Distraction

In the second installment of IPG Media Lab’s 2015 Outlook, we explore the theme of “Peak Distraction” – the new reality that our attention is increasingly scarce, and that  new targeting and technologies can help marketers win back share of attention.

Peak Distraction

In this mobile age, it’s harder and harder to be heard.

Publishers and marketers have monetized every available pixel of screen real estate. In many ways, we’ve overmonetized, and so there is a view-ability crisis in media. According to Google, only 43.9% of ad impressions are viewable on the Web. And that’s before Banner Blindness.

At the same time we’re spending more time with smaller screens, compounding the problem. We each have a finite amount of attention, and that’s shrinking by the day. According to a recent study, the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. (The average goldfish now has us beat, with an attention span of 9 seconds.) There’s simply too much to keep track of.

Peak distraction is an inflection point where we have lost the cognitive ability to attend to anything else.

New media needs to replace something that was getting our attention, because there’s no room left for additions. We must slow down, declutter, have better filters, make choices about what we pay attention to.

xAd found that advertisers are increasingly combining location-based factors with their demographic targeting or retargeting campaigns. Ads using no location data (2% to 1%) or only zip code or city-level data (40% to 21%) were cut in half from 2013 to 2014. “Geo Precise” ads using specific behavioral or GPS data are taking over, making up 79% of ads in 2014 vs. 58% in 2013.

Media buyers will benefit from improved technology, like machine learning and combining contextual targeting factors, that helps them determine the exact perfect moment to deliver an impression. Everything else is waste and clutter, and risks banishment.

This is actually great news for advertisers and consumers. Consumers get only the ads that are relevant for them at one moment, and advertisers get the best shot at winning the consumer dollar.

Everybody wins.


“As an industry, we’ve become obsessed with certain aspects of ‘who’ consumers are and forgotten the fundamentals of consumer-brand interaction. Traditional media channels like television, OOH and radio succeeded in penetrating the consumer psyche by identifying and becoming a part of consumers’ daily routines during those in-between moments when consumers are more receptive to distraction from the outside world. As consumers spend more time on-the-go, knowing where they are in time, space, and mind space will be key to finding opportunities to connect with them.”

— Michael Provenzano, CEO & Co-Founder, Vistar Media


About the 2015 Outlook: Every year our IPG global media innovation and research hub, Media Lab, round up the ideas that will define the year in their annual “Outlook”; the market forces, new technologies, and consumer shifts that are changing the ways we evaluate, buy, and create media. Their 2015 Outlook – “Let’s Get Intimate” – takes a look at the increasingly personal (and important) world of contextual media placement and the challenges and opportunities for marketers. You can download the full Outlook here.