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Manoj Damodaran

Partner - Digital



Winning over the mindless scrollers

What if I told you that you have wasted all the digital marketing dollars you’ve spent so far because you’ve been looking at success through the wrong lens?

No, really. Think about that for a few seconds.

Reach or engagement?

Reach in its purest form must no longer be used as a metric for success in digital marketing. How many people your brand has reached over a defined period means nothing.

So, engagement then?

Not all those you reach, see. Not all those who see, pay attention. Not all those who pay attention, engage. Engagement is a subset of attention.

Attention is the missing currency

Attention is a powerful thing. And enough has been said about the human attention span versus that of a goldfish. This has been proven with research and I am not debating this. But isn’t that to be expected, given the endless scrolls and hyperlinks we spend most part of our waking hours with? We live in a world of abundant distraction and there is a constant bidding war in our brain between various kinds of content trying to grab our attention. The supply of content is much higher than the true demand, and that puts our brain in a constant decision-making tussle. There is a perplexed intertwining of the rational and emotional mind, and consumers are left with a lack of self-control over the content choices they make online.

Creatures of choice

In his book “How Brands Grow”, Byron Sharp stresses the importance of getting noticed, in order to prime the consumer’s mind before purchase happens. This is by far the most difficult task in digital marketing. Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z together make up over 93 percent of the 143 million internet users in Indonesia. While they have their individual quirks and attributes, all of them in their adulthood are or have been digitally dependent. The abundance of everything digital – screens, content, platforms, etc. – has made them a creature of choice (not habit).

Is storytelling the one true solution?

There is a clear argument for great storytelling, and rightly so. Come to think of it, this is nothing new. A look at your own life will tell you that the memories etched on your brain are beautiful stories, regardless of whether they’re your own or were told by someone else. This is even true for some of the advertising that has been traditionally made for television. Great storytelling by brands has the power to cut through clutter and grab a consumer’s attention. This often came (and still does) in 15 seconds, 30 seconds or sometimes 60 seconds.

New world storytelling norms are questionable

The new order of social media and content behemoths offer a different take. The argument propagated in today’s marketing world is that storytelling has to be short, often limiting it to a few seconds. I am all for snappy short stories that are designed to grab attention. Who has time for advertising? But I haven’t heard a single person in the recent past talk about being moved by micro-content.

Let’s be honest. Telling snappy stories is hard! And it’s not something every brand can do. For argument’s sake, let’s for a minute assume that the world is filled with five-second content creation experts and brands that subscribe to it. What does that really do to drive long-term brand impact? In a study by GroupM APAC, it was found that longer videos (>16 seconds) were 1.6x more effective in driving unaided awareness and 3x better at driving purchase intent.

Design for attention and measure it!

We seldom pay heed to the levels of attention garnered for a piece of content. This can come in the form of dwell-time, on-screen time, in-view time, video completion rates and many more. Today, there are third-party measurement and verification technologies available for you to measure true attention. This missing piece of the puzzle will enrich the way you start looking at your content. We’ve all sat in multiple quarterly reviews and pondered on the “so what?” of digital marketing. Let “attention” be the answer to your “so what?”.