What is the Attention Economy?
Economics studies how individuals, governments, firms and nations make choices on allocating scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants (Investopedia ULC, n.d.). Information is found in abundance on the Internet. We are living in an age where we have information overload - we no longer read but skim information. It is this rapid growth of information that makes attention scarce (Iskold, 2007), creating the basis of the Attention Economy.
How does the Attention Economy work?
Iskold (2007) proposes that the two key ingredients necessary for Attention Economy to work are relevancy and privacy.
Relevancy – as long as the consumer sees relevant content, he is going to stick around, resulting in extended time spent at the site browsing and a higher possibility of a sale. The moment a negative result is encountered, there is a high possibility that the user would move on to a different site for answers, trusting that somewhere in cyberspace, there exists the solution he is looking for.
Privacy – It is no longer about just protecting the consumer information but the challenge is to allow the user control of his own information, choosing what services he wants to receive in return for the attention given. Gaining credibility in this area also serves to put the retailer in good standing with the consumers.
How does Amazon capitalise on the Attention Economy?
When one visits Amazon.com, one is greeted by several elements that are ready to invest the necessary attention that a shopper desires -
- Categorisation by departments – This helps the shopper to streamline searches. Broad categories allow shoppers to narrow the search themselves, browsing through the further options within a category itself. This is very much like going to a particular section in a department store. This is attention in that the online store cares for making the shopping experience a little more efficient.
- Search Bar (right across the top) – This gives the shopper a direct answer as to whether what he is looking for exists. This is akin to a sales person giving direct attention to the shopper and his questions.
- Account creation – This caters for a more personalised shopping experience. When the profile is filled out, Amazon takes notes of the entries and will bear that in mind when making recommendations to the shopper.
When making a search for a particular product and clicking on a possible option, the shopper is again presented with a few different options, further personalising the shopping experience by offering different options -
- Shopping Cart – This gives the impression that someone is helping to keep track of the chosen products and making it possible for the shopper to check it all out at one go. It also relieves the shopper of having to remember where he last saw the product he wants and going back to the page to select paying for it.
- Wish List – Shoppers are also allowed to put items on their wish list. This automatically creates a list of products they would like to purchase in the foreseeable future. This allows them to get relevant gifts for others from browsing their wish lists (Amazon.com Inc, n.d.).
- Payment options – free shipping is often included as an option, though only for restricted geographical locations. This is a huge draw for online stores as opposed to regular shops. Other payment options include discounts on shipping if the total cumulative cost exceeds a certain amount.
- What other customers who viewed this item bought and customer reviews – Nothing beats information from the end user. Customers tend to believe other customers more than the retailers or advertisers and this provision allows a potential buyer to cross reference with other buyers and, from the information garnered, decide if this product is worth his dollars. This also allows the shopper to have a voice for future potential buyers – a platform for attention to be directed his way.
The shopping experience at Amazon.com cannot be made much simpler. One sees a product, reads the reviews, explores other options and clicks on the product of choice, chooses the payment method and waits for the product to arrive at the doorstep – all this without even leaving the chair (except to pick up the package from the delivery person at the door). The more successful sales made on Amazon.com is a way of assuring that there will be returning customers. One can be confident that satisfied customers will also vouch for the positive experiences and direct others to do their shopping through the same medium.
Amazon draws a huge amount of attention through all these means. This also makes it a very viable choice for advertisers to place their ads on Amazon.com in the hope that the eyeballs that browse the pages of Amazon will remember the split second they saw the ad and choose that product, should it come to a time when the need to purchase arises.
Attention is the new resource that retailers should focus on. The sooner one realises that with effective attention comes a corresponding increase in credibility and subsequently monetary profit, the more one would allocate resources to evaluate how attention can be drawn to oneself. Amazon has demonstrated this process in a very clear and vivid way.