As I was thinking about attention, I remembered a book I had read a few months ago – James Clear’s Atomic Habits. The word “atomic” had stuck in my mind as I had read the book. Here’s a small excerpt from the book: “An atomic habit refers to a tiny change, a marginal gain, a 1 percent improvement. But atomic habits are not just any old habits, however small. They are little habits that are part of a larger system. Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results. Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement. At first, these tiny routines seem insignificant, but soon they build on each other and fuel bigger wins that multiply to a degree that far outweighs the cost of their initial investment. They are both small and mighty. This is the meaning of the phrase atomic habits—a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do, but also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.”
I realised the similarity of the idea of micro-rewards with the concept of atomic habits. To solve the problem of attention recession needed a small change in habits – fuelled by an incentive. The rewards were tiny but with mighty potential for building lasting brand-customer relationships. For brands, these rewards could be the answer to maximising lifetime revenues from customers. I needed to give this idea a name, and thus was born the concept “atomic rewards.” I took the cover of the Atomic Habits book and created my own impression of what an Atomic Rewards ad would look like.
The word “atomic” connected with rewards brought the idea to life and bridged the gap between my talking about attention recession, attention messaging and Mu. I had originally limited the idea of Mu to just push messages, but as I thought more, I realised it had much wider potential – and thus it needed to move beyond messaging. Thus was born the idea of “atomic rewards” – micro-incentives for persuasion by paying for attention and engagement.
It is an idea made for today’s digital world – where each of us has a persistent identity and a smartphone capable of instant action. Atomic rewards work across brands because no single brand engagement will offer enough incentives to become an independent program. These rewards are not linked with transactions. They come in the form of points (Mu) and are thus non-financial. The points aggregated across multiple brand engagements can be redeemed at the Mu Shop. Gamification can make it more exciting, even offering access and differentiated experiences in the µniverse. Perhaps, one day, atomic rewards earned could even be tradeable tokens, much like cryptocurrencies – where human action (in the form of attention and engagement) becomes the equivalent of mining leading to the creation of Mu.