Imagining Mus: An Attention-Action Currency (Part 3)

Attention Economy – 2

Sandeep Goyal in Business Standard: “Advertising, as a business, has always been about attention. The value of our collective attention, in fact, has helped fund all types of media — be it print, television, radio or outdoor. Six to eight minutes of paid advertising funds the actual “content” that fills every half-hour on television. Every quarter page of advertising pays for the balance page of news or editorial content in the newspaper. Without an active advertising subsidy, the internet also as it currently exists would be completely unsustainable. However, there is a fundamental problem with this “attention economy”. While the number of advertising messages that can vie for the customer’s attention is practically limitless, the attention they’re vying for is fundamentally limited. And that has been advertising’s eternal challenge. Every single day, there are more companies, with more brands and more products to advertise, which means there’s more demand for consumer attention than ever before.”

Mint (AFP report): “In today’s digital world, attention time is a most valuable resource. “The digital economy is based upon competition to consume humans’ attention. This competition has existed for a long time, but the current generation of tools for consuming attention is far more effective than previous generations,” said David S.H. Rosenthal in a Pew Research Center study in April 2018. “Economies of scale and network effects have placed control of these tools in a very small number of exceptionally powerful companies. These companies are driven by the need to consume more and more of the available attention to maximize profit.””

Mark Manson: “…The new scarcity in the internet age is attention. Since there is a surplus of information, more information flowing through our society than any of us could ever hope to process or understand, the new bottleneck on our economy is attention. We now live in an attention-based economy. This is why today we are each bombarded with over 3,000 advertising messages per day. This is why these advertisements get zanier and more nonsensical…because the goal of advertisements is no longer information but simply attention.”

Sophie Perryer in The New Economy: “Brands don’t want your dollars anymore – they want your eyeballs. The ominously named concept of ‘eyeball marketing’, where a business’ value is derived from the amount of attention it garners, rather than its revenue, has become the modus operandi for today’s digitally focused brands. These companies are eschewing the notion that paying customers are loyal customers, and are instead looking to less tangible metrics… Loyalty is the ultimate attention filter as it prevents consumers from even looking for other information, products or services.”

Albert Wenger: “Our limited attention can readily be absorbed by ever refreshing content. Humans are maladapted to the information environment we now live in. Our brain evolved in a world where when you saw a cat, there was an actual cat. Now we live in a world of infinite cat pictures. This is analogous to our maladaptation to sugar for an environment that is now sugar rich (largely artificially so). Checking email, Twitter, Instagram, watching yet another YouTube clip or Snapchat story, or episode of one’s favorite show on a streaming service—these all provide quick “information hits” that trigger parts of our brain that evolved to be stimulated by novelty. The limited availability of attention has become the key new source of economic rents. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are valued in no small part based on the amount of attention they have been able to aggregate, some of which they then resell in the form of advertising. As a result they invest heavily in algorithms designed to present ever more captivating content to their end users in order to monopolize their attention.”

Will Oremus: “Algorithmic feeds are highly efficient at amplifying posts that stand out from the feed enough to pause people’s scrolling fingers. Each social app can choose — and tweak — which types of engagement it wants to optimize for, but they’re all optimizing for engagement because that’s what they can measure. The result, regardless of platform, is a feed full of attention-grabbing content. Feeds full of attention-grabbing content are great at keeping us hooked, keeping us scrolling, and keeping us coming back. But while these feeds may be addictive, they’re also exhausting and numbing. When every post in your feed has been selected from a huge pool of possible posts for its attention-grabbing qualities, you can start to feel shouted at, manipulated, pandered to, and overwhelmed… New digital media products [like Clubhouse and Twitter’s “Super Followers”] are focusing on low-volume, high-attention relationships rather than high-volume, low-attention feeds.”

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.