At the MarketMatch holiday party last December, we made a stop at a gourmet burger and arcade themed restaurant on the party tour. After dinner had been consumed, Bruce poked me. “Come on, let’s go play some video games.” It seemed like a reasonable request for the theme of the restaurant.

After two or three rounds of the arcade game Galactica, it was pretty clear that Bruce knew what he was doing and, sadly, I did not. “You’re pretty bad at this,” he said. After muttering a crude reply under my breath and downing a few gulps of beer, I then proceeded to get my butt kicked for another few rounds.

Arcade games are clearly not my specialty.

But arcade games and console video games are many other people’s specialty. As a “border line” Millennial, I grew up in a time where both going to the mall arcade and playing Nintendo at a friend’s house was a completely normal passing of time. A few years later, computer-based video games began to take off, distracting our young minds even more. (Anyone else learn to hack the school computers to play Doom during lab time? Yeah, me either.)

And the gaming industry has taken notice. As of last year, pilot programs in Atlantic City casinos have started to replace the traditional spinning slot machines. The machines that enthralled previous generations are being replaced with more interactive, level-based gaming consoles of Gen X and Millennial youth. Games mimicking classics such as Frogger, Pac-Man and others are now populating casino floors. The whole goal is to continue to attract new gambling enthusiasts that don’t have the attention spans required to sit, pull levers and watch wheels spin around and around to line up winning icon combinations.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the fact that attention spans are getting shorter. Which means that as financial marketers, we have even less time to get our hook into consumers and relay a meaningful message. The gaming industry, which counts on the idea that their customers will sit at a machine (or table) and play, and play, and play, has come to recognize this and forge a solution. Which means that, we, too, must recognize the implications it could have for our bank or credit union. Or face the idea that we will be lost in a barrage of “me too” financial marketing.

About this time last year, when Pokemon Go was all the craze, we wrote about using augmented reality in mobile apps as a fantastic differentiator from your competition. Taking off from there, here are a couple of quick ideas to curb the attention deficit problem that your bank or credit union will likely be facing with current and future consumers:

  • Mobile ATM Technology. Large national banks have begun using their mobile apps in order to make getting cash from an ATM easier. By using wireless technology and temporary PINs, financials have made an ATM card optional in order to get cash. The Millennial in me looks and goes “Wow, that’s cool! A great use of technology!” The marketer in me looks at it and says “Makes sense.” Why fight the battle of making younger consumers carry your debit card all the time, when trends are indicating a stronger use of credit cards? Beyond using this technology for ATMs, think about how else this might be utilized? What other barriers to convenience can be removed?
  • Get More Augmented. Beyond using augmented reality for finding ATMs and branch locations, how else can this very interactive and engaging piece be used? Many card companies are already using geo fencing techniques to alert their cardholders of offers within their surrounding location. Why not take the next step and enhance that experience with a more visual appeal? At the same time, you will be enhancing your card’s reward program, energizing loyalty among younger consumers, and encouraging more use among your cardholders.
  • Push Alerts. We know that the trend of the overall effectiveness of email marketing is experiencing a decline, especially when it comes to direct offers for product. In our more attention-deficit world, who has time to read email offers? So why not meet your consumers where they’re already at – on the home screen of their mobile devices? Much like how your automated marketing program is built to push email offers to your customers when certain criteria are met, I think the logical next step is to move those offers to mobile push alerts. By integrating this with the mobile app, your customer or member experiences an even more streamlined and convenient experience to take respond to the offer.

As I wrote this post, I started to think to myself “Where does the attention span shortening stop?” As time goes on, it seems to keep getting shorter and shorter, with new technology and techniques feeding into the idea. I mean, you know it’s bad when the casinos have to take action! Nonetheless, in the face of “disruption” from easy, streamlined interfaces in the financial industry, now is the time to consider how traditional FIs can compete on this playing field.

What are your thoughts? Does your bank or credit union need an attention span re-boot? Or, leave a comment and let us know what your favorite arcade game is!