When we start telling a story for an audience we always try to understand when the listener, viewer or reader might be experiencing our narrative. For as long as I can remember the notion of ‘appointment viewing’ has been preached by content strategists, including myself, but things have changed. We now need to think about attraction viewing.
As technology and audiences have changed, and more so recently, audiences no longer experience content at the same times as each other. Gone are the Game Of Thrones days of sitting down on a Sunday night to catch the latest episode at 9pm. What it’s been replaced with are windows of time you need to attract your audience towards. We’re now part of a queue that we need to optimise for, because if you lose your position you’ll fall out of mind.
The Old Rules Still Apply
Water cooler moments are not dead. If possible you should still aim to create an event around your content. Conversation breeds consumption. Getting your audience to understand when the content is released and encouraging a specific window for conversation helps drive attention. What has changed though is that the concept of an air date has become blurry.
The time your content goes live is no longer a moment for people to sit down and tune in, it’s a marker in time, a reminder. Imagine instead of TV guide, audiences now have a to do list. Your appearance in their feed is a reminder on that to do list. The more your reminder is associated with a conversation or event the higher the priority you will be on that to do list, because the audience will want to be part of a moment.
You can see this in action as the latest Netflix Original Series are put online. Audiences don’t watch at the same time. The conversations become more transient and extended instead of just twenty four hours from the a standard air date.
Audience Queue Prioritisation
Events are not the only way to optimise for priority in your audience’s queue. You also need to think about behaviour. Different content falls into different parts of the day. Here at Adrift we have four different consumption behaviours that we see. It’s how we categorise where the priority will be for the audience.
A period of time that audiences have for a short burst of content from five to ten minutes. This is best suited for short Youtube videos, “chewing gum” content and mobile games. The aim here is to fill a short amount of time in between activities, waiting time and before or after sleep.
This is an exceptionally busy category, and should only really be used to drive awareness. While there are many opportunities to capture audience attention here it’s the simplest form of entertainment. If kept consistent and regular can become quite a powerful habitual tool with an audience to leverage them to further action.
This segment is for content that does not require eyes on. For example during exercise, doing chores or commuting. It’s best suited for audio experiences or video where the visuals can be glanced at rather than monitored.
While the podcast industry is booming currently, you’ll have to earn your spot here. The length of time for audiences willing to engage is typically longer than Short Burst, but the content needs to be engaging enough to prevent a skip. Attention is higher but the audience will be more previous about what takes these slots depending on whether they’ve already booked another series into that slot. This content relies the most on developing a relationship with the audience.
When audiences want to be immersed, they probably look towards a bigger screen. This is when TV shows and video games kick in. Your time with your audience is extended, but they expect to spend a significant amount of time engaging with the content.
While this category can be busy at certain times of the year, what’s important is to create a sense of repetition. This is the type of content people engage with to relax after work or switch off during the weekend. It’s got to be ready and easy enough to tune in, but also easy enough to resume at a later point without breaking the experience.
The least filled audience content category. This is reserved for films or content that require multiple hours of your time in one sitting. While there isn’t so much content in this category, there are also fewer spots during the audience’s time to experience this type of content. You have to earn your spot here, and it’s likely going to be attached to an event.
Each of these categories carry their own reminders. Analyse your content to understand what category your story fits within. Then prioritise for the experience that is most inline with the audience’s behaviour for that content.
So far we’ve discussed how you can encourage attraction with your audience through habit, events and behaviour optimisation. There is a final component to attracting audiences. It’s a bit harder to measure than the others, as it doesn’t have a number you can really assign it.
The last component is feeling. Which may seem a little bit empty, but a great example is how during the holidays you want to experience holiday content to get yourself in the right mood.
There are smaller plains of conscious that are more regular. People label content with their moods at the time whether it be the want to relax, learn, laugh or be engaged. Try to anticipate what you want your audience to feel and build that feeling into your narrative. That way even before they action a reminder your audience knows what they’re in for and how they will feel. It’s valuable to associate a feeling with your content to help cement time and place with the people who will experience your story.
Don't Fall Outside The Boundary
My final note on attraction consumption is that you can easily fall outside its boundary. If you don’t maintain your prioritisation it’s very easy to lose your position in your audiences queue. Regularity is key.
Unless your content is a seminal cultural moment it’s likely that if it didn’t meet the requirements to be top of a content queue during its week, it will be lost to the backlog. Make sure you have your next thing ready to enter the fray all over again the next week.
This post was written by Ollie Judge you can follow him on Twitter.