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Grappling with the attention deficit

August typically feels slow. But even if half of your team is out on holiday for the month, you still have business to attend to—whether it’s evolving for the future or mining current data for trends. So we’ve curated the best of Think With Google to help you get things done.

Predictions and Trends

One of the most troubling trends marketers are grappling with is a decrease in consumer attention. Arguing that we all have to take off our blindfolds, Harvard Business School professor and brand consultant Thales Teixeira offers a reality check: “Over the past two decades, the cost of one minute of a person’s attention to TV in the U.S. has risen by a factor of seven, even after controlling for inflation. At the same time, the percentage of ads considered fully viewed with high attention has decreased from 97% in the early 1990s to less than 20% just a few years ago.”

Teixeira, however, does have a prescription for this attention-deficit disorder: Build up customer attention over the long run, optimize the creative factors you can control, and stop wasting money on spray-and-pray media.

One way of grabbing consumer attention might be to focus on micro-moments. But even there, things are changing, according to Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of marketing for the Americas, who’s been highlighting the latest research in this sphere. People can’t remember what it was like to not be able to learn, do, or buy things when the need strikes by reaching for the device in their pocket. It’s an entrenched behavior—micro-moments are only multiplying and consumers have become more impatient, more demanding, and more curious.


"Testing six-second ads has also helped us understand what building for shorter attention spans looks and feels like. There are certain things the format forces you to do. It’s all about having one clear message with a unique value proposition.” — Axel Adida, global digital chief operating officer, L’Oréal

Once you know you’re partnering with the right people, letting go of control is much less scary. That being said, it’s really important to be clear from day one about your expectations. Everyone involved should know two things: your objective and your boundaries. Everything else is creative space.” — David Kargas, a Clorox director of marketing communications

Data Feed

Even if attention is going down, watch time is going up in some areas. Watch time of back-to-school content on YouTube has more than tripled over the past two years. And in that same time period, watch time of product-review videos has grown over 10X on mobile alone. Here's how brands can make the most of their own efforts.

Have you noticed how popular cold-brew has become this summer? In one of many behavioral shifts affecting drinking preferences across the globe, the cold-brew trend is growing in the U.K., Spain, and Mexico, and has seen a giant spike in the U.S.

Think Global

People in Thailand and Indonesia are watching more YouTube than ever. What’s the story behind those millions of hours of watch time? Spend some time with viewers in both countries to find out.

And, finally, a thought about the future and artificial intelligence, which is typically seen as tech-driven sci-fi. According to British futurist Tracey Follows, science-fiction writers who focused on social change, communications, and environmental concerns have more accurately predicted the future than those steeped in military or technological fields. Those social factors, as well as diversity and consideration of culture, are something to keep in mind as companies build out and incorporate AI into everything they do.