08/06/2015 08:12 BST | Updated 03/06/2016 06:59 BST

Why Brands Need to Address the Attention Revolution

Our recent Attention Spans indicated that men are better at applying alternating attention to different tasks in order to get things done, whereas women are more likely to maintain sustained attention during repetitive activity.

The research was developed for the advertising community and indicates a requirement from brands to create ad experiences that are in tune with shifting audience behaviours.

Our research also revealed that more than eight in ten Brits (86%) are multi-screening when watching TV, gaming or browsing the internet. This increase in multi-screen behavior is changing how our brains are absorbing and retaining information.

Our research revealed that there are three different 'modes' of attention:

  • Ninja: this is when consumers compartmentalise tasks so they can control their attention, whilst individual activities are allocated specific devices - work and play are usually kept completely separate
  • Pragmatist: this is when consumers show some degree of compartmentalization, but use attention skills to combine activities, rather than having rigid rules to organise their day
  • Ambidextrous: when consumers regularly blend tasks together across devices to do household admin, work and social media activities at the same time.

Each mode reflects consumer usage of technology and outlines how they approach everyday tasks. These attention span personas help to illustrate the subtle nuances that impact how consumers respond to brand content, equipping marketers with new insight to inform their digital ad campaigns.

At Microsoft, we believe comprehensive insight into consumer behaviour is central to delivering relevant and engaging brand campaigns. Alongside this, it's extremely important for marketers to combine audience insights with technology to allow them to reach the right consumers, at the right moment, with the right content. Brands must adapt accordingly, too, updating their strategies to ensure that brands keep up to date with consumer's changing online behavior through using different technology platforms and ad formats to engage with consumers effectively, at specific points in the day.

Our digital behavior continues to adapt and change in response to the rapid pace of technological developments. Consequently, this is changing how our brains absorb and retain information. Understanding how attention spans can shift in response to a range of demographic and lifestyle factors is one of many things that marketers must consider and brands should address this to deliver ad experiences in the right context, at the right time and on the right device.