Multi-screening in modern day is a given, as suggested by Alyson Gausby in the Microsoft Canadas’ Consumer Insights report. This phenomenon actually makes advertising more effective, as viewers fill in those boring gaps and are “primed for immersive experiences” and are more engaged overall. Consumers and audiences need to be stimulated mentally almost all the time and most especially when engaging in media activities.
It’s becoming increasingly clearer that the … consumer is a second screen fiend, constantly doing two things at one time. – Shane O’Leary in his article Is multi-screening diluting our attention span and wrecking or brain? on Irish Consumers and Media Stacking
This attention economy demonstrates that many factors influence and shape your respective capacity to pay attention.
My favourite visual attention/awareness test
This can be seen in practice through an experiment I conducted with my Grandma. My Grandma and I were both subjects for an attention test using the medium of music. We both listened to 10 songs and were then asked 10 questions about the lyrics and tune of the 10 songs in a randomised order. This activity was periodic and uses the cognitive ability to stay focused for a prolonged amount of time. Link to other music attention span studies.
( Image taken from Shane Oleary)
The results of this experiment were as follows:
Linda: 7/10 Questions Correct
Caitlyn: 6/10 Questions Correct
Although minute, this difference demonstrates and gives some indication of the affects of multi-screening and media stacking. It is to be noted that my Grandmother, Linda, also uses more than one screen at a time- as seen in the image to the right, although this is to a lesser extent than my own multi-tech habits.
This experiment on attention spans and the affect on the consumers that multi-screen highlights the common results of a typical user. This change is not detrimental to media producers and entertainers in my eyes, and rather teaches them to produce something worth staying focused on.