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Marketing in the digital age – Attention Summit review

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This April, I was once again proud to host our annual conference in Southampton. We welcomed a record breaking 200 delegates to St Marys Stadium the home of my beloved Southampton FC.

With our recent repositioning and belief that attention is the highest prized commodity available today, the Attention Summit bought together some of the best thinkers in the marketing space to discuss various approaches and thoughts about how we can succeed in these ever squeezed times. There are many videos from the day on our Youtube channel so take a look around to find out more from the day.

To help bring the day together, my talk took a look at the current issues facing businesses when it comes to fighting against the noise along with some ideas and thoughts about how to cut through and beat the competition.

If you don’t fancy watching me in all my glory harp on for 30 minutes, then I’ve taken the key learnings from my talk and highlighted them below.


Whilst there are many other definitions of attention, we like this one the best.

“In its purest sense, attention is the action of focusing on one particular idea or task over a multitude of others. “

For us, attention is about really caring or focusing on something. We live in an age of content obesity and digital addiction where we can’t leave our phones alone for more than hour. We wake up next to our phone and check it up to 150 times per day.

The challenge that we set for ourselves to get our clients message right and in front of the right people so that they understand it, believe it and are interested in it enough to tune out everything else around them.



When we use the internet to do something, either search for something or connect with friends, we do to achieve something for us. We want the quickest route to our answer or goal. We don’t want advertising and we don’t really want to click on it unless it can help us with this. It’s the biggest reason why click through rates are so bad on social networks. We’re not there to be sold to.

If you are going to interrupt someone's journey or goal to do something, then for goodness sake make it worthwhile. Sticking a pop up banner ad in front a new website visitor after 5 seconds (I’m looking at you Sumome) is not the best way to help them.

They do not care about your goals.

They do not want to have an annoying advert having only read 2 lines of the content that might not even be useful.

They want to achieve their goals so get out of the goddam way!

Due to the onslaught of ever intrusive advertising techniques, we’ve trained ourselves to tune out of most of these things so don’t use them as it can really devalue your brand.



It’s a fact that nearly all of our decision making is made a subconscious level. We are constantly evaluating our choices and the world around us but only consciously take action when we need to. When it comes to deciding to part with your money or information online, there are many, many reasons why we choose one provider over another.

For brands in the attention age, having a brutally clear message and position that means something can make a huge difference. If you can create belief and resonate with your target audience, this makes it significantly easier to cut through a large part of the market. Starting with why, is just as important as it’s always been.



Tom Webster of Edison Research said;

“Content should fulfil at least one of these three conditions: It entertains, It challenges or it comes from genuine expertise.”

I believe this to be very true. If you are going to sit down and write a blog, create an infographic, post an update or make a video, it should fulfil at least one of these criteria.

Once you know what you need to include, you should then think about what type of content is going to be the best to capture your audience's attention. Faris Yakob has literally written the book on attention and has put together this helpful graph to show what content works best for getting and holding attention.

Whilst these content assets can take many forms, one of our speakers from the day Richard Shotton has done some research into messaging for content and advertising and discovered that we need to either radically simplify things to get people's attention or get them when they are in a captivated state (e.g. cinema, the gym).



As you have hopefully read, these are ever pressured times for marketers. We’re fighting against attention from many angles; digital can be consumed by anyone, anywhere at any time of the day.  To cut through the rest of the world and competition we need to take a look at our businesses and get a better understanding of what we stand for and then radically simplify our message to get attention.

Having spent a long time thinking about how to put this into action, we believe our attention model gives businesses a process to go through to identify how to best to get the attention that they deserve.

Don’t forget, you can still enjoy the full presentation, along with all of the others from the day, on our Youtube page.



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