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Hey, You 👋 The Problem Isn’t Gen Z’s Attention Span


It’s virtually impossible to be able to track exactly how the younger generation views their content and even harder to find out exactly what designs will actually capture their attention.

The different avenues people go down to consume their media increases every day, whether it’s the Pixel Pro or the Apple Vision Headset, or the platform, anywhere from Instagram to Xbox. Right now, marketing toward the younger generation is harder than ever with all these possibilities to do so, and with the rapidly changing content that’s on these platforms it’s impossible to pinpoint what they want to see. So, what can be done to our creative to better capture Gen Z’s scattered brain?

Can We Have Your Attention, Please?

With the rise of social media for the past 20 years since Facebook in 2004, came the downfall of people’s attention span – most specifically with Gen Z. For example, when kicking off a campaign, we often debate on which YouTube pre-roll to place – skippable or unskippable. Grabbing the viewer’s attention within those first 5 seconds before skipping is not a simple task. Although facts tell us the public’s attention span has collectively reduced, that’s not the only thing you can blame.

Bottom line is notable creative gets remembered.

As everything is ever-changing, so is the creative. It’s not right to outright say that Gen Z’s concentration makes it impossible to market to. However, it is right to say that they’re much likely to pay less attention if it doesn’t resonate with them, obviously.

As everything is ever-changing, so is the creative. It’s not right to outright say that Gen Z’s concentration makes it impossible to market to. However, it is right to say that they’re much likely to pay less attention if it doesn’t resonate with them, obviously. So many more things are being advertised to us today that the lack of innovation in creative is exhausting.

The importance of grabbing the viewers’ attention immediately has been taught to us since first grade in our writing, and still applies today when making our art. In my line of work, it’s hard to remember what trade you’re in when sometimes all the creative seems to be instructed or requested. But at the end of every day, when you hang up your hat, you’re always going to be an artist.

The Art of Design

Everything you look at around you is designed. The importance of design is instrumental in the world, and it’s not only in making a pre-roll or display ad. The number of media in which we consume “art” is in infinite. You can create art using anything you can think of. Creating a solid concept is the leading thought when starting a project. With the limitless ways there are to share your ads, you must make something that stands out from the infinite content on that platform.

In our agency, we have what’s called a kickoff meeting wherein all the relevant information and strategy is downloaded to the Creative Department. When brainstorming about the creative for a kickoff meeting for the new campaign, you can’t think like a corporate worker. You need to think like a college art student who’s been assigned a project to create whatever the hell they want with any medium they can find. It’s arguably the most enjoyable thing to do as an artist.

Before deciding college wasn’t for me and opting to work full time, the classes that art students are free to create were the ones I learned from the most. The task of creating an art piece based on your own theme, can lead you down endless trails you didn’t even expect to follow.

For Example

Ideas grow your art develop and determine the way you create your art. My favorite project I worked on my one year at the University at Buffalo, was in 3D mixed media. I was working with cardboard with the theme of ways to express youthful urban expression. As time went on and my ideas evolved, I ended up creating a cardboard boombox and inside was speaker parts and wiring I installed so that it could really play music, despite its cardboard looks.

This project took me down all sorts of avenues I didn’t expect to see, from just familiarizing myself with how cardboard is constructed and deconstructed, to learning how to wire and set up my own speaker system from just a few parts I had ordered.

Learning and adapting are a part of every great creative process and if your idea doesn’t develop over time, you’re not working hard enough.

At the end of the day, it’s not just designing per your client’s request or getting people to visit or buy your product, it’s producing something you’re proud of – something you’d would be happy to put on your portfolio. It’s key to remember your role as an artist and making sure you’re designing with confidence and purpose. If you think about how a kid never seems to finish the end of their song or how they swipe faster than light speed on TikTok, it’s easy to think they’re never going to pay attention to an ad, but nevertheless, good creative, good art, always gets remembered no matter your age or inclination.

About The Author

Bryce is well-versed in creative thinking and the art of design, capably taking on any task that comes his way. He’s no stranger to ABC, having served as an intern since his high school days. Bryce is now a full-time part of the team and invaluable member of the staff who is constantly coming up with cool compositions for application in all media.

Bryce is a proud sound junkie, using an endless array of music genres as his muse for creating fantastic design or just chilling out. A devout sneakerhead, you’ll catch him wearing his latest pair to transport him all around his beloved Syracuse community.