1960 - TV For the world’s first televised presidential debate, advertising students at Harvard University predict that the average attention span of the American public is 42 seconds. JFK wins the debates with responses broken down into 42 second sound-bites. Similar research was done in 2008 for Barack Obama’s campaign. The average attention span had dropped to less than 5 seconds Obama’s simple “Change” and “Yes We Can” campaign was born partly as a result of© 2013 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. this research.