The internet has transformed into a superfluous repository of information in the present era. Consequently, this information overload is causing a deficit or a scarcity of attention. Now if you are not quite familiar with the usage of the word “attention” in the context of this discussion, it simply refers to consumption of information.
Herbert Simon has quite elegantly pointed out that, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Thus, a need arises out of obvious causes to mine and efficiently allocate this information to its intended audience.
Attention and Economy may be two diverse terms but in the modern times is naturally amalgamating, with one becoming highly interdependent on the other. Let us consider an example to show you exactly how attention affects economy.
While searching for the latest book reviews or releases, how often do you navigate away from a page that does not contain the review of a book that you have been looking for? The chances are high. The fact is, with so many websites and blogs being continuously updated with information on your favorite genre(s), you do not bother to stick to a page and search for information that is not there in the first glance! It takes seconds before you decide to look for your information on a different website or a web page and navigate away from the present one if you are not satisfied with its content. In the process, have you noticed the crisis of attention?
If you observe closely, you will find that this attention deficit not only affects us, but also the organizations keen to reach out to you with their products or services. The moment you are navigating away from a page presuming that the information provided in it is not relevant, you are hurting their economics. Search engines, online retailers, blogs, and news sites are coughing up an overabundance of information for the end users or the consumers every passing hour. This can lead to a loose-loose situation where eventually, a consumer leaves a website, un-happy and a retailer looses business. The irony is, a consumer wants to spend money for a commodity, but does not have the correct retailer reaching out to him.
The entire idea behind attention economy is to create a virtual marketplace where consumers are presented with streamlined content that makes them feel happy and satisfied, in lieu of their attention. More specifically, consumers are made to consume advertisements however, in exchange of certain personalized services. For example, personalized searches, news, alerts and buying recommendations, to name a few.
You might have noticed the “sponsored links” in the Google search pages. You get to use the search feature of Google for free; however, you are being presented with some relevant advertisements based on your search keyword on the search results page. This is an excellent example that demonstrates attention economy in action.
One of the important aspects of attention economy relates to the fact that the consumer can exercise the power of his or her choice. Therefore, the consumer gets to decide where to devote their attention. Websites are also capitalizing on the “online surfing habits” of the consumer, thereby optimizing the way in which information may be sorted and presented.
One might probably argue with the usage of the word “Economy” here. Attention economy is different form its conventional counterpart in the way in which barter is established. The latter has a more explicit or direct form where goods and services may be bought or sold. However, in the former, there is no immediate buying or selling of commodity. The focus is more towards creating deterministic opportunities to sell.