Advertising in the Age of Distraction

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Last Thanksgiving, the food devoured and the dishes cleaned, I distinctly remember sitting down to watch one of the football games, then glancing at my phone for Facebook updates and new email. All at once, an advertising tsunami hit, as if every brand I'd ever encountered was flooding me with messages in anticipation of sales. Clothes and TVs. Mobile devices and kids' toys. Even those candles I'd bought for my wife a couple months earlier.

In that moment, however fleeting, the playing field was clear and the challenges for brands on full display: There may be more ways to reach consumers than ever before, but those consumers are harder to engage than ever before, too.

While my experience was in the key early stages of the holiday season, the challenges are not limited to the holidays. Brands are facing the same challenges every day, and the general acceleration of commerce is going to make this a permanent phenomenon.

Marketers need to know, more than ever, how to break through the clutter.

The proliferation of digital devices, coupled with a deluge of short, "snackable" content, has given consumers greater choice than ever in how and where they consume media. That's led to more distractions and ever-shrinking attention spans. A couple of pieces of data illustrate the point:
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