Viacom’s ‘Attention Study’ Finds Consumers Aren’t Overwhelmed

Company’s Scratch division found 75% say their ability to pay attention is stable or improving

Viacom released the findings of its first Attention Study during a small-scale Advertising Week gathering Tuesday morning, inviting attendees into an “installation” it created to showcase the data. A general Q&A with Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox, which offered scant mention of either attention metrics or advertising, preceded the installation tour.

The study led by Viacom’s Scratch unit found that contrary to popular belief, consumers are not overwhelmed by choices, platforms and content. “It’s not consumers who are in crisis—it’s marketers," said Anne Hubert, senior VP and head of Scratch. 

According to the study, which drew from 2,667 respondents last summer, 75% said their ability to pay attention is getting better or staying constant; 70% feel they are paying the right amount of attention to different aspects of their lives; and 81% are intentionally limiting the attention they pay to various media.

The effect of those core findings, Viacom says, is strong engagement with its content. That's a major theme the company has been trying to drive home in recent months, as it implements multiplatform ad and measurement tools. Even if traditional Nielsen numbers for its cable fare are slipping (as are those of other major TV networks), audience affinity and connection with content remains intact. Consumers’ ability to navigate the current mediascape, Scratch says its study illustrates, enables them to bond with others with shared interests—76% consider themselves part of a fan community and nearly two-thirds say what they remember most they experienced with others.

About 25% reported having binge-watched a favorite TV show for eight hours. And perhaps the most auspicious data point for MTV and many of its Viacom siblings: 20% of respondents feel they are paying “too little attention to celebrities.”