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The Attention Economy

"The marketers make their money by putting photos, personal posts, news stories and ads in front of you. Because they can measure how you react, they know just how to get under your skin. They collect data about you to have algorithms to determine what will catch your eye, in an “attention economy” that keeps users scrolling, clicking and sharing—again and again and again."


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"Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it."

Have your close friend complained that you do not give adequate attention to him or her? You must have seen that most of our roads are filled with billboards. The movies have advertisements. Your mobile phones and apps are flooded with advertisements.


Why?


Do you not think that they crave for your attention? They want it because they need it to survive, to flourish.

Because attention is scarce and a resource- a finite resource.

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What’s scarcity?

Scarcity is the simple concept of something being in short supply. It’s the idea that there is not enough supply of some resource to meet the demand of that resource.

Why do we need attention?

As an individual, we want to be heard, seen, appreciated, recognized, spent time with and much more. We expect our closest friends to attend to us and we attend to them. This implies that certain amount of time is to be allocated.

To summarize, we all want attention, an absence of which brings disappointment. The market too needs attention to sell its products without which it will fall and this makes attention a scarce resource. This brings us to the concept scarcity. Essentially, the economy thrives on the principle of scarcity.

Why does the market need attention?

To put it simply, the marketers compete with thousands of other marketers, companies and things people to grab the attention of the buyer- the finite resource. For instance, a mobile of certain configuration is manufactured by several companies and to sell their products to you- the consumer; they need your attention.

Given that as humans, we only have 24 hours in a day which means we have limited time. Therefore, our choices to allocate time, which in a way is attention, determines the economic value we create or destroy.

No doubt, why we call time as money. This underlines the idea of an attention economy.

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So, what does an attention economy do?

The teacher screams loud in a chaotic class. Why? To get everybody’s attention. To be heard and bring order to class. The email has an option to mark your e-mail with the level of importance it carries. Why? Because you want the priority attention. The message in an ad video is crafted poetically. Why?

All our human processes are centered around the game of attention and so is the economy.

The market must discover creative ways to capture your imagination- your attention. Therefore, they try various means. Creating ads is one of those. They give you reward points. The market is constantly trying to prove how important you’re to them.

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The dark side of the attention economy

The marketers make their money by putting photos, personal posts, news stories and ads in front of you. Because they can measure how you react, they know just how to get under your skin. They collect data about you to have algorithms to determine what will catch your eye, in an “attention economy” that keeps users scrolling, clicking and sharing—again and again and again. Anyone setting out to shape opinion can produce dozens of ads, analyze them and see which is hardest to resist. Can you imagine how many times do you touch your smartphones and dive into the temptations of an attention economy? The thought could be compelling.

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So, here is the trick. You can not escape the attention economy, but you can always make optimum and judicious use of the attention you choose to allocate. Remember, the master of an attention economy is YOU.

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