Engaging Homo distractus: Latest, original market research on what today’s distracted audiences prefer

March 15, 2023

In this hyper-connected world, we're all on a mission to speed up our daily grind. We've got access to more information than we know what to do with, but our attention spans are getting shorter than a stubby pencil. We surveyed knowledge workers in the US to understand people's content preferences. These findings can help you tune yourself better to 'what people want' and become a more impactful marketer.



Some of the questions we explored:

  • What content formats do knowledge workers prefer?
  • How do these preferences change with age and gender?
  • What webinar and video formats do people prefer?
  • Do subtitles matter?
  • Does the screen size matter? 


1. What content formats do knowledge workers prefer?

A majority of people (81%) prefer short video-based content. A very small percentage (4%) prefer exclusively written content. 




2. What happens when text is blended with video? How do preferences change with age and gender? 

Our research found that people who prefer text-based content in addition to short video-based content have a slight edge over those who prefer video-only content. Preferences for content format change with age, with younger people preferring just short-form videos and older age groups preferring text blended with short-form video. Women have a slightly higher preference for short video-based content than men in general.




3. What webinar and video formats do people prefer?

A majority of people (72%) prefer webinars that use slides and talking heads, with only a small percentage (4%) preferring only talking heads. Gender has no impact on people's preferences for video or webinar formats, but the age group between 45 and 60 years of age has a very high preference for videos that have slides and talking heads.

Overall, people prefer slides with talking heads because it makes complicated concepts more engaging and easier to consume. 




4. Do subtitles matter?

Our research found that 74% of people find subtitles valuable, which is consistent with other media companies' research [Wall Street Journal this and this]. The increasing trend of using subtitles to understand speakers is seen in both the B2B and consumer worlds. More nuances in the video below.




5. Does screen size matter? 

The study found that people's content preferences do not change based on the screen size or device they are using. People prefer short video-based content over long videos. Period.

The study also explored whether device type or operating system affects content preferences, finding no significant differences. However, content consumption does vary based on the situation people are in. 




Key takeaways:

Attention is scarce and valuable, and it's what generates revenue. People's content consumption habits vary based on their situation, age, and gender, but there are clear trends that marketers should adapt to. As societal trends continue to shift rapidly, it's imperative for marketers to adjust their content and formats, and most importantly - do it fast. Velocity is key. Adapt or get ignored.




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Footnotes: We conducted blind research - Parmonic's name as the sponsor was not disclosed to reduce any potential bias in respondent's minds. The survey was conducted in the United States with 2,620 participants in late 2022 through Jan 2023.