In 2013, the average person’s attention span reached a milestone: it is now shorter than a goldfish’s. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span has decreased to eight seconds (from 12 seconds in 2000), which is shorter than the nine-second attention span of the average goldfish.

With immediate access through the Internet to all types of resources, audiences take in a significant amount of information every day. Due to this, there has never been more competition for the time and attention of your target audience. So the question for marketers is: How can our message break through this eight-second barrier?

“Snackable” media like infographics and tweets have been successful in breaking through the noise, certainly. And while these short-form media cater to quick content consumption, what happens if you need more time to convey a value proposition or describe a product? How do you engage your audience for an extended amount of time?

Customized content can grab and keep people’s attention. An engaging title/subtitle, an intriguing question or an interesting fact connects users to the content. It also helps if the content being shared is unique and authentic. If your content meets your audience’s specific requirements, you become a trusted source of worthwhile information, and your message will be effectively and credibly conveyed.

Value is another way to drive engagement and combat short attention spans. If you want to increase engagement you must have something valuable to add to the conversation. In other words, once you’ve captured their attention, you must give audiences a reason to continue—and this must happen quickly. That saying we keep hearing is true: (Quality) content is King. Provide depth and relevance and users stay engaged, relate the information to their own lives and, in turn, act on it.

Our customers are finding success with high-value, tailored content. In fact, for our last benchmarks report, we analyzed over 7,000 webcasts to determine the latest trends, and we found that the average webinar viewing time is actually increasing annually, up 12% in 2013 to 56 minutes. Obviously, this is far longer than the average person’s eight-second attention span! Webinars can retain an audience’s attention by delivering the right content to the right targets at the right time—attendees stay longer as a result.

Ultimately, combating short attention spans comes down to targeted content that is tailored for each channel.  Marketers need to create the type of content that will grab and hold the audience’s attention and increase interest.  The content must engage, inform and feel right. Have any other tips? Please share them in the comments section.