Understand the attention economy and its implications for the advertising industry

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By Yorick Pinto, Creative Director, BC Web Wise

What would be the most scarce resource in today’s information-rich world? If your answer is highly skilled talent (labor) or funding (capital), you would be far from the truth!

According to Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, attention is the most valuable and scarce resource for brands and organizations to gain competitive advantage, especially when it comes to increasing employee morale, customer engagement and gaining market share!

Warning: the new mantra of success

“Understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success.”
~Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck

In their groundbreaking book, The Attention Economy, Davenport & Beck make a compelling case that unless organizations learn how to effectively capture, manage and sustain attention, both within the organization and in the marketplace, they will lose out to competitors who are able to manage this intangible resource in a more efficient and structured way.

As marketers, this statement holds true for us, with most brands struggling to capture the customer’s attention, especially when faced with a double whammy of reduced attention span and increased distractions from other online services and providers.

Wealth of information means poverty of attention

The term “attention economy” was coined by American economist, political scientist and cognitive psychologist Herbert A. Simon, who explained the correlation between information and attention, and how they follow the laws of supply and demand.

His famous quote: “A wealth of information creates poverty of attention”, makes perfect sense for marketing practitioners who literally have to struggle to capture the user’s attention, especially when faced with a plethora of exciting apps and websites vying for user’s attention. .

Pay attention to where you pay attention

The growth of the Internet in the mid-1990s led theoretical physicist Micheal Goldhaber to argue that the international economy was migrating from a materials-based economy to an attention-based economy. Its main point of contention being the many services offered free of charge on the internet.

In the book Virtual Community, Howard Rheingold lays out a basic guideline to:
Attention is a finite resource, so be careful where you direct your attention.

How can marketers benefit from the “attention economy”?

As custodians and brand managers, we are keen to create more immersive experiences for customers so that they devote more time and attention to our digital properties such as microsites, apps, social media pages , etc. UX designers understand that every product competes for valuable customer attention, especially in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace where many resources are freely available to customers. It is essential to understand that “attention” is not just a resource, but a form of currency, with users paying for services with their attention.

Marketers can explore creating rich experiences for user attention, in the form of:

1. Reward Tokens

As brands use gamification techniques such as “badges” and “tiers” where they reward their most loyal fans for engaging with the brand, the popularity of MetaVerses and NFTs offer a much more immersive way to reward the fans.

Brands can explore creative ways to provide their fans with exclusive “limited edition” assets, making their property highly sought after. These assets could only be offered to customers or fans when they carry out a certain activity, thus making them players in the brands, which now hold a “stake” in them.

Lifestyle brands can even go so far as to create special-edition products in limited quantities, which can only be earned by “super-fans” when they redeem their loyalty tokens.

Case study:
Major football clubs offer fans the opportunity to purchase the club’s crypto token. These tokens can later be used to unlock certain exclusive assets such as player NFTs or ownership of virtual stadium land on the Metaverse or even the ability to have face-to-face interaction with players.

2. Curated personalized experiences for users

Brands can consider rewarding their followers by creating “bonus content” such as “Behind The Scenes” (BTS) footage, or curating unique experiences such as personalized interaction with celebrities.

The idea here is to create one-of-a-kind rewarding experiences that cannot be bought but must be earned by users by giving their attention.

Case study:
A popular Metaverse gaming platform has partnered with a major soccer league and is offering trading cards for soccer players for sale. Each trading card sale is tied to rewards points and fans who earn a certain number of points have the opportunity to have their players’ NFTs signed by football players virtually on match day.

3. Unique Digital Rewards

One of the interesting consumer insights reveals that fans are excited to “collect” experiences and these can range from physical items to digital artifacts.

Brands can take advantage of this by creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) such as artwork, avatars, soundtracks, music videos, etc., which can be given as rewards to customers in exchange for their attention, which is past tense. branded content on the branded website or app.

Case study:

As part of its Easter Hunt campaign, a popular ice cream brand created 10 limited-edition Golden Egg NFTs for fans to find and collect.

As NFTs become increasingly popular, more and more brands will be looking to create an exclusive set of branded NFTs that can be given away to fans either through special sales or as rewards for participating in certain events or activities. These NFTs will not only provide fans with a new way to engage with brands, but also unlock value for them, especially if the NFTs can be traded on third-party NFT marketplaces.

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