Forget page views. Aim for people’s attention.

Forget pageviews / Themba Jay

There’s one thing that irks me to no end, and it’s this: marketers who are happy to get just views on their stories.

Think about it, 100 000 people having viewed your story isn’t a sure bet to rely on. Because a person might have seen the story because it disrupted their activity online, for instance, and it took them 35 seconds as they tried to close it because the cancel button is annoyingly small.

So did they really see your story even when they spent the entire time trying to dispose of it? I don’t think so.

Shifting gears to gathering people’s attention instead is a worthwhile pursuit.

Example: when people actively seek out your Facebook page to watch your videos (I do this with Gary Vaynerchuk’s Facebook page, it’s actually become a ritual) or log into your blog to catch up with your latest content. I do exactly that with Jason Fried’s blog on Medium. When I go for a long period of time without reading his thoughts, I have to track back from where I ended. He has my attention. That’s priceless!

The model of reporting used by a lot of media agencies when they present their results places weight on views. Not many people focus on getting and keeping people’s attention.

Consider this. When pressed to choose between investing effort on Google+ over Instagram, I would go for Instagram. The latter has a lot of people using it everyday. I would go where people’s attention is. Simple.

Many agency clients are led to believe their brands are the talk of the town whereas consumers just want to ignore their marketing efforts. I am exposed to their communication because it is shoved into my daily routine. As I read a well-written article, an advert pops up and auto-plays the imbedded video midway through my reading. That disturbs my activity, not getting my attention.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I seldom come across any content from Apple that is clumsily thrown in the midst of the things I do online. Or anywhere else. Apple has their consumers’ attention. And what’s even more fascinating: they realise that their products are the best form of marketing they have. When a friend has their iPhone in my presence, I often want to fiddle with the device. When someone pulls out their MacBook Air laptop in a coffee shop, it’s likely some other person will stare at the machine.

And it doesn’t hurt that when you visit their website, their copy writing is fucking amazing! And therein lies their strength: the whole value chain is run seamlessly. Thus, the entire Apple brand is its best asset when it comes to marketing.

In the time when there’s applications designed to block online ads, it is a difficult time for communicators somewhat.

Pushing noise, disguised as marketing, down people’s throats does not work, and justifying it using views is only a band aid to a wound that hasn’t been treated. As time proceeds, it doesn’t heal. And putting more band aid on it (more money, more expensive marketing) won’t reverse the damage.

Writer Maria Popova once made a compelling point about this very subject.

For a contemporary parallel, we need not look further than journalism and the media industry, which in their insatiable hunger for progress along flawed metrics like pageviews have reduced the profession’s true social currency — substantive writing that elucidates meaning — to “content,” which implies the very thing it purveys: meaningless filler material to stick between advertising.

What’s left is for us to truly want to be the best at what we do, document our journey and form consistent stories and then building audiences to sit around our fire when we tell those stories.