Grabbing people's attention online

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When it comes to online activity, everyone has short attention span. How do websites and other applications draw and hold consumers for long-form media like podcasts and video-downloads?

Nan Forte
EVP, consumer services,
WebMD 

More consumers visit WebMD than any other health site in search of health information. Our editorial and programming teams work closely with our product and technology groups to create the appropriate balance of compelling content together with an engaging user experience. The high level of user engagement on WebMD can be attributed to the high degree of personalization combined with the mix of sight, sound and motion across our network. For example, video is presented as part of the integrated user experience.
In the past year alone, we've seen an increase in the way consumers are interacting with long-form media. We credit our programming expertise and the fact that many of our visitors are engaged information-seekers who will take time to engage in relevant programming.


Michelle Johnson
Manager, pharmaceutical public affairs, 
Abbott

Abbott's decision to create its “Crohn's Casts: Speaking from the Gut” series was about addressing the needs of patients by combining the right online tools with relevant topics. Each of the podcasts is under five minutes and shares insights from health professionals regarding diet and nutrition, the emotional impact of the disease and its effect on relationships, and accounts from people living with or impacted by Crohn's disease. CrohnsOnline.com is a site dedicated to people with Crohn's disease, a gastrointestinal disease that often strikes between ages 15-35.  Since 50% of people with chronic diseases go online to find healthcare information, a podcast was a simple, creative vehicle for this young and web-savvy group.  


David Best
President,
The Doctor's Channel

I have found that the best way to draw and hold consumers is to sell them on the idea of shorter content that is packed with more information. The world is media snacking, getting their information in bite-sized bursts.  Here at The Doctor's Channel, we have decided that our best chance to grab the attention of the medical community is not to fight the urge for media snacking, but rather to embrace it.  We offer the same content you would find in an 8-minute video, but we provide it in four segments, each 2 minutes long.  More often than not, people end up watching all four segments anyway. So consumers end up viewing 8 minutes of content, but because it is presented to them in smaller doses, they are more engaged. But remember, no matter what the “dose,” interesting content is paramount!


Marjorie Martin
SVP & general manager,
Everyday Health Network

Online health users have a reputation for being impatient; however, it may be because they're not finding what they need. Internet users are generally in search of answers to specific questions as opposed to casual browsing. When they find relevant content they stick with it. Audio and video perform best online when they're specific to a condition and use the visuals and audio to provide important information.  For instance, someone in search of content on weight loss surgery is more likely to view animation of the procedure and an interview with a former patient (including visuals of the scar) than watch video of two doctors sitting in a studio talking about it. 
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