A few weeks ago, I started thinking about two ideas: atomic rewards and attention, and how a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) could create a new political platform as a genuine alternative to India’s political parties. There were two common themes that came out as glue: the need to leverage network effects for scaling, and creating an incentive mechanism (“tokens”) for the actions that people will perform. I realised that I knew very little about both these topics. So, what better way to learn than to write a blog series?! That is the genesis of this exploration. Let me begin by stating the two problems I was trying to solve.
As I have written earlier, one of the big challenges brands face is the diminishing attention span of their prospects and customers. This “attention recession” leads to most push messages sent by marketers to get customers to the brand’s properties (website/app) being ignored. This in turn leads to “retention recession” – customer churn. The outcome of this is that brands end up overspending on reacquisition on Google and Facebook. This 90:10 skew in adtech:martech (acquisition:retention) spending presents a big hurdle for brands on the path to profitability.
What if brands could fix the attention recession problem? Instead of paying Google and Facebook, what if they decided to pay their customers for their attention? Can that lead to more attention and engagement? This has been the thinking behind an idea I have termed “Atomic Rewards” – micro-incentives for marketer-desired behaviour. These rewards are delinked from transactions; many brands have loyalty programs which take care of that. Atomic Rewards focus on the upstream of transactions: attention, engagement, habits and subscriptions. Atomic Rewards needs a pan-brand “token” solution which can enable brands to easily reward their customers for non-transaction actions. If such a solution can also help drive virality in adoption, even better.
The second problem is in the world of politics. As I have written previously, India needs a Nayi Disha, a new direction. Those who are non-aligned and non-voters need to unite to transform India – what I have termed as United Voters of India (UVI). The challenge is how to create UVI such that it doesn’t replicate the centralised nature of India’s political parties and eventually become hostage to the wishes and whims of one or two people at the top. A digital platform, borrowing from the world of D2C (direct-to-consumer) brands, structured as a DAO could be one possible solution.
What are the incentives that will drive actions in such an organisation? What will make members persuade others to sign up? What will make candidates decide to contest? How can donors fund candidates? Why will volunteers help with campaigning? Incentives – in the form of “tokens” – are what can drive actions, and create the network effects needed to scale membership rapidly. Winning in elections will require support from at least 30% of the voters who also turn out on election day and vote as one for their chosen candidate.
So, how do we start thinking about the solutions to these problems?