The Short of It: Why Quick Content Matters Now


Today’s meme may be blowing up your digital airwaves, but chances are it’ll be old news by tomorrow. In the constantly evolving media ecosystem, it can be tough for a communications professional to sort through the static and identify the trends that truly matter.

In the Tier One report, The Shifting Media Landscape: Where It’s Headed Next, produced by our Agile Insights and Analytics practice, we look at the most influential changes in media happening right now, including the shift toward short-form content.

Dwindling Attention Spans

Feel yourself unable to concentrate on an article for more than a few seconds? You’re not alone. The average attention span has declined from just 12 seconds to eight. To meet consumers where they’re at, media outlets and brands alike are creating content that can be consumed quickly.

The TikTok Effect

TikTok is one of the best examples of this increased preference for super-short content. Each minute, 167 million videos are watched on the short-form video app. It’s not just entertainment — viewers find value in the content, with 71% of TikTok users reporting the app has a bigger impact on their lives than others and 79% reporting it inspires them to do new things in real life.

Speed Reading (and Listening)

And it’s not just videos that are shorter. Just look at skimmable newsletters like Axios and mini podcasts like Ted X Shorts. People are looking for ways to access content without a big time investment.

Mobile and Digital First

Remember actual physical newspapers? They now seem like a relic of the past. These days, we scroll the news on smartphones, often using social media apps. Thirty-one percent consult Facebook, 25% YouTube, and 14% Twitter for their headlines. About half of Americans turn to social media to stay informed at least sometimes. 

As a result, the social media news environment has become populated not just with independent and niche creators, but large and legacy outlets, like The Washington Post, NPR, and Business Insider.

All About the Algorithm

We used to choose the magazines, TV shows, and radio stations we consumed. Now, more often than not, a sophisticated sorting method based on artificial intelligence and machine learning decides the content we see. Perfected by apps like TikTok, the algorithms give us what they think we want — and they’re quite successful. People sometimes feel like the algorithm knows them better than they know themselves. 

But is so much fragmentation doing more harm than good? In the algorithm era, it’s less likely that you’ll see the same TV shows or news stories that your neighbor does, leading to the loss of cultural touchstones we can all relate to.

Less Is More

It looks like short-form, algorithmically-fueled content is here to stay, so it’s important for brands to optimize their strategy accordingly. For starters, look for opportunities to edit and retool longer-form content and experiment with the length and format that resonates best with your target audience. 

To get more insights on additional key trends shaping the media right now, download The Shifting Media Landscape: Where It’s Headed Next.

Banner with text: "The shifting media landscape: Where it's headed next." Click to download.

Subscribe to TOP Talk