Healthcare Marketing: Patients’ Media Habits Increasingly Challenging

Media consumption is rapidly changing.  Some marketers are responding with shorter ads while some are going to longer format ads.

Marketers face acute challenges with changing consumer media habits.  Particularly with younger demographics that have shrinking attentions spans.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has found through research that media consumption is actually increasing.  It has gone from an average of six hours and 21 minutes in 2004 to seven hours and 38 minutes today.  But today there is more multitasking and media becomes more fragmented.  Rupal Parekh in an Ad Age article reports that the Kaiser Foundation in fact estimates that because more people are using more than one medium at a time, consumers are actually managing to pack 10 hours and 45 minutes of media content into the 7 and one half hour.

Shrinking attention spans have dictated the shrinkage of media ad segments from 60-second spots to 30, 15, 5 and even 1-second spots.   But some marketers are going the other way.  They are investing in longer format ads.  These longer ads provide the opportunity to entertain, which engages the viewer.

Lady Gaga’s music video “Telephone” is nearly 10 minutes long.  In just a few weeks it had garnered over 28 million views on YouTube, over 500,000 views on and either shared on Facebook or tweeted directly from the pop star’s website over 150,000 times.

Marketers are trying all kinds of different ways to effectively reach consumers.  The variety can be seen from the extremes cited above.  Consumers have varying media habits with shorter attention spans and are flooded with media stimulation.  All of which make the job of marketers more and more difficult. It’s increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and hold the attention of consumers who may be consuming more than one medium.

The challenge requires creativity and the willingness to try different methods.  It demands accepting risk and even failure sometimes.  No one has a certain answer on how to most effectively communicate to a complex marketplace.  Probably there are multiple ways that are effective.  We just need to keep experimenting and never stop learning.


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