I am in a bookstore. I pick up many books, browse quickly through them, and then move on. If a book seems interesting, I will spend a few minutes going through the first few pages and perhaps reading online reviews before I make a purchase decision. Imagine now if there was a QR code on the back cover with an offer: “read the book’s first chapter, scan the QR code, answer 3 Qs, and earn 50 Mu.” The odds that I will buy the book increase dramatically after I spend a few minutes reading the first chapter – Amazon knows this and offers its Kindle users not just excerpts with its “Look Inside” and a free sample.
In both cases, before I pay with my money, I am paying with my attention. Add a small twist to this. What if the book publisher (or book reseller) could reward me for my attention? It could offer me Mu to read the first chapter – and ask a few simple questions (hence the QR code) to ensure that I actually paid attention while reading. An investment of 1% of the book value in the form of an incentive for my time could perhaps lead to a multi-fold increase in buyers. Also, as a side benefit, they would capture my interest and link it to my identity, thus offering me future offers by push messages sent to either my email address or mobile number.
But alas! There is no easy method for the publisher or book seller to reward me for anything other than a completed transaction. And so these “micro moments” of attention and relationship building never happen.
Let’s take another example. The front page of many newspapers recently had a full-page ad for a new OTT series. I see the ad, make a mental note and move on. Maybe I will remember to check the web series later, maybe not. Now imagine instead if there was a QR code with an offer: watch a 3-minute trailer and earn 20 Mu. An anonymous me is now an identified prospect for the OTT channel. A small incentive makes it more likely that I will identify myself and perhaps, even watch the series after my interest is piqued with the trailer. As an additional bonus, the OTT brand will know the efficacy of its ads by publication.
Here’s a third scenario. I am at a restaurant with friends and it’s time for dessert. Should there be a reluctance to order, the restaurant could offer a small incentive to simply look at the offerings – once I (or my friends) actually see the photos of the delicacies, the likelihood of us ordering will increase dramatically. And yet, that moment is lost – unchanged through centuries, unimpacted by digital.
I am sure each of us can imagine many such moments in our daily lives where a few minutes of rewarded attention could increase our engagement with brands. But these win-win moments don’t happen because there is no mechanism for brands to offer us micro-incentives for our time and interaction. As I have written earlier, attention and engagement are upstream of transactions. Brands have focused on rewarding transactions either through loyalty programs of their own or partnerships with credit card companies. But what has been missed (or ignored) is what comes before the transaction – our attention. This is where “atomic rewards” can be the game changer as the solution to attention recession.