The Canadian advertising ecosystem is undergoing a seismic shift. Attention spans are on the decline. Interactions are the new currency of online marketing. To attract eyeballs and engage audiences for the long-haul, marketers need to know why consumers are interacting with content so they can focus on delivering personalized, tailored experiences to every individual.

Using a sample of over 32,000 online consumers, we explored over 55,000 consumer interactions with online content. The research was fielded in May 2016, as part of an international study that included the U.S., UK, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Spain, and Germany. In Canada alone, we looked at over 6,800 interactions from 4,000 online consumers.

The study looked at the motivations, emotions, outcomes and topics to understand the key behaviours that drive consumers to interact with content online. In the end, we uncovered eight universal motivations or Content Moments:

1. Inspire: look for fresh ideas or try something new

2. Be in the Know: stay updated or find relevant ideas

3. Find: seek answers or advice

4. Comfort: seek support or insight

5. Connect: learn something new or be part of a community

6. Feel Good: improve mood or feel relaxed

7. Entertain: look for an escape or a mental break

8. Update Socially: stay updated or take a mental break

"AOL's Content Moments study has uncovered the consumer mind-sets that drive engagement in a media landscape where decisions are frequently made in a split second or on-the-go," explains Andrew Consky, director of research at AOL Canada. "By having a better understanding of these moments, advertisers can use the insights to inspire creative executions and create more customized experiences for consumers."

Here are the key findings from the study, for Canadian consumers.

•Canadians spend the most time in an Entertain Moment
On average, Canadians spend 12 minutes in a Content Moment, however they spend more time in Entertain, Connect and Find Moments.

•French Canadians are more likely to be in a Find, Entertain and Feel Good Moment
At any given time, French Canadians are more likely to be in a Find, Entertain and Feel Good Moment, while English Canadians are more likely to be in a Comfort, Update Socially and Connect Moment.

•Canadian consumers are spending more time in an Emotional Moment
Canadians are spending a longer time in emotional outcome-driven Moments such as Entertain (18 mins on average) and Connect (15 minutes on average) when seeking relaxation and escapism.

•Women are more likely to use mobile devices when engaging with content
Women are more likely to reach for their tablet or smartphone when engaging with content, whereas men are more likely to use a PC and be on a games console.

•Women and men engage differently in Content Moments
In Canada, women over-index more on "lean-back" Moments such as Inspire and Entertain, while men index significantly higher on Connect Moments and are more motivated by visual, sticky content that can be shared with friends and social groups.

•Millennials index highly on Inspire and Connect Moments
Canadian millennials (16-34 year-olds) are much more likely to use their smartphones to engage with content and index highly on Inspire and Connect Moments, driven by distraction or a desire to try something new or be shocked and amazed. Those aged 45-64 predominantly use tablets and PCs and are more focused and intent-based Moments, over-indexing on Find and Be in the Know Moments.

•Canadians spend twice as long in a Moment in the evenings
Canadian consumers spend nearly twice as long in a Moment later in the evening (16 minutes on average between 8pm and 11pm) than they do in the morning (10 minutes on average between 9am and 12pm).

•During the weekend, Canadians are more attracted to emotional and entertaining Moments
On week days, consumers are motivated by staying updated on current affairs, researching something specific or seeking moments to take a mental break and are therefore more likely to be in intent-based moments such as Update Socially, Be in the Know and Find. This changes during the weekend, when consumers are more attracted to emotional and entertaining Moments such as Comfort, Connect and Feel Good.

"The end result here, for us, is to provide a framework for marketers to better engage with consumers and move away from traditional audience-based campaigns toward moment-based segments," says Consky. "Marketers can better align with consumer motivations by selecting the right combination of moments, formats, and topics to drive more relevant content experiences."

Learn more: Here's how AOL defines the 8 moments that spark engagement with online content

To view the full research click here