Why Word Count Matters in Advertising

If you have ever watched a goldfish, you probably noticed that not a whole lot of activity occurs. Maybe some bubbles rise to the surface, a tail swish happens, and eventually the actions repeat.

According to a 2015 study released by Microsoft, the average human attention span is only eight seconds, which happens to be a shorter attention span than our little orange friends.

There have been multiple articles written about this study and plenty of speculation regarding the validity of it, but whether humans have a longer attention span than a fish or not, there is something to be said of the change in how we interact with the world thanks to technology.

Even if our attention spans have decreased, our distractions certainly haven’t. Between all the tasks, projects, and notifications that demand our attention every day, there leaves very little time for marketers to get their messages across. Marketers no longer have competition only from direct competitors. Now they also face it from the barrage of notifications that disrupt the day.

Recently I was presented with a screen of scrolling advertisements. Some of the content was genuinely interesting, but I quickly noticed that the amount of text found on each ad far outweighed the time limit the content had before being switched out for another. If I had wanted to get the full extent of information from the advertisement, then I would have had to wait until the whole cycle of advertisements finished before it appeared again.

Since there is already limited time to present people with your ad, there is no time for second chances. If your content is not fully understood the first time it’s presented to someone, then the ad has failed at its job.

A great design and color scheme is important, but the word count for each advertisement is equally, if not (arguably) more important. Each word must be placed with purpose, otherwise the strongest impact will not be made.

Whether having an eight second attention span is true or not, it does make for a good rule of thumb. If someone can read your ad in eight seconds and understand it, then your campaign is off to a solid start.