Attention Economy

How Are You Trapped in the Attention Economy?

Your Time Is Worth More Than You Think

April 26, 2018, Spencer Phade

Do you feel that you are constantly bombarded with messages? Or you have that urge to check your phone the second you hear the fabled Facebook notification noise? 

These are prime examples showing we have entered a new era called the attention economy.

How Are You Trapped in the Attention Economy?

The attention economy is fairly simple. The amount of attention you or I have to offer in a day is limited. But the demand for attention is ever increasing.

So when you have a scare resource and an increasing or high demand, we can start to apply some of the basics of supply and demand economics. 

Now your daily attention quota is filled with many different things such as work, school, hobbies, family and friends.  And for decades, advertisers have been trying their hardest to try to grab just a sliver of your attention to share with you their newest product or message.

This vying for attention is something that has being going on for ages, however, it is the digital era that has taken it to a whole new level.

With smartphones and other devices connecting us, never before have we been so directly accessible to companies and organizations.

Their battle is to try to break through the clutter and noise to capture as much of your daily attention as possible.

And with two of the largest tech companies, Facebook and Google, both generating almost all of their revenue off advertising, we can see that the stakes are high.

In 2017 Google generated $95 billion in advertising revenue with Facebook bringing in just under $40 billion.

Though that extra one or two YouTube video you watch from the auto play or suggested bar may not seem like much to you, to Google it is worth a lot.

Every minute, these companies can keep you on their platform is worth something. 

An interesting calculation was done by author Sam Jeffers. Based on statistics provided by Facebook, he concluded that they earned on average 1¢ per minute spent on Facebook by U.S. users.

Now this may not seem like a lot, but with 214 million active users in the U.S. alone, you can see the scale of the opportunity.

Facebook has been a market leader in how to get you to spend more and more time on their platform. Even the  former Facebook President, Sean Parker, is on the record saying the Facebook founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology.”

This alone exemplifies the how fierce the competition is for our limited amount attention. And with Facebook being one of the most successful tech companies in the world, the rewards if done properly.

Social media is one of the greatest examples as it affects most of us in our day to day lives and we are all participants in the attention economy of social platforms. However, the attention economy extends past B2C relationships.

It also plays an important role in B2B. Companies are spending more than ever before to gain the attention of prospective clients. Kapost and Gleanester Research estimate B2B companies spend $5.2 billion a year on content production.

The attention economy, like most economies, always seems simpler in theory. And however, complex it may be, it can be summarized by one simple concept. Your time is money.

So other than me, who will you give your attention to today?


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