When it comes to grabbing attention, not all attention is equal. As good example of this can be seen if you use the tube in London.

As you enter most underground stations, there will be some form of advertising. Usually this is for local businesses or for Transport For London, the authority that manages the system. People don’t often hang around in the stations very much, so the amount of attention available is very low. Unless you’re advertising to people waiting for their date to appear, this probably not a great spot.

On the escalators down to the platforms there are often ads. But unless the advertisement can be understood in the blink of an eye, there isn’t much point being here because there isn’t time for anyone to take in a complex message. On the platform there are adverts. But certainly at rush hour, unless there is disruption to the service, there isn’t much time to read them. Then on the train – there are advertising sites above the seats. Plenty of time for people to read the messages, but this is where the real attention grabbers come in. Newspapers, Freesheets, paperbacks, a bit of last minute work, kindles, ipads, mobile phones. These are the places where all the attention is focused.

Why advertise where there is little attention?

So the question has to be, why do brands spend money on Tube advertising when they know – certainly if they are a Londoner – that the attention their messages will get will at best be fleeting?

Well maybe the answer is that they don’t know what else to do. Don’t know how to get more of that oh-so-valuable attention.

The answer is not simple and grabbing more attention is not easy to do. But it isn’t complicated, either. Create something that people want to lavish their attention on.

The value of great content

There is nothing to stop a brand creating great content that people want to consume. That can be films that people want to watch. Stories that people want to read. Photography that people want to gaze at. Games that people want to play. News that people are interested in.

Certainly it is time consuming. The ROI is harder to quantify (although perhaps the ROI of all marketing is hard to justify; it is just that with traditional media the person that the marketer reports to, built their career justifying their spend on traditional media). But just because something is hard to do, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Right?

Of course there are brands working on creating interesting content that people want to consume. All too often there is then a problem of over-branding, which is bad because the audience is not stupid and they are not going to spend their time consuming advertisements pretending to be content (and so many businesses seem incapable of not killing their own golden goose) but if a brand gets it right, they will revel in the attention they will receive and leap ahead of the competition. Simple. Isn’t it?


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