The Attention Revolution: Our Obligation is to Establish a Deeper Respect for Consumer’s Time & Attention

Marketing is about the stories we tell in context, that meet people where they are and solve real-world problems for consumers. Having a deep and profound respect for our audience’s time and attention is, therefore, one of the greatest obligations of our industry.

A decade ago the formula for increasing traffic and leads was much more simplistic: publish more content. Fast forward to today, the digital landscape has evolved and this approach simply no longer holds.

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Social media has evolved such that where we spend our time and our attention impacts much more than what we buy and how much we spend on it. In an age of information abundance, the narratives we share as marketers have the power to influence our audience’s mental and physical health, as well as interpersonal relationships. When defined as a crucial investment, attention becomes the world’s, and every individual’s most valuable resource.

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” – Herbert A. Simon

Our industry faces an important inflection point during which consumers are growing more and more wary of measures of activity that have little to do with verifiable action. The result? An attention revolution in which there is increasing trust in curation, metrics advertisers emphasize are being challenged and reevaluated, and there is a concrete opportunity to impact the role emerging technologies play in our lives, specifically, how AI is directing our ears and eyes.

Trust in curation

Content curation is the process of researching, organizing, and presenting third-party content in a meaningful way. By nature, its responsibility extends beyond merely sharing content on a social platform. Rather, there is an inherent trust that a curator will provide context to the story that will convey intrinsic value to an audience.

In the current attention crisis, trusted curators will undoubtedly shape the future of culture and commerce differentiating brands, retailers, and media companies that matter and those that are simply part of a social platform’s profit margin. Indeed, we will see a new generation of media technologies and a holding company that helps us optimize our ‘attention diets.’

Measured metrics

It’s no secret that the current metrics our industry emphasizes, including “views” or “impressions,” are vaguely defined and intentionally propped up in order to keep advertising prices low. This has presented and perpetuated a fundamental industry issue: we are facilitating a trend in which our stories are less and less correlated to what people are actually paying attention to, and what is conducive to positive conversations that drive social impact, and cases of fraud are on the rise.

In turn, businesses with quality attention are undervalued and others are losing value by chasing meaningless metrics that favor the fake and the negative for no other reason other then these posts are cheap and have a higher tendency to go viral. But with an understanding of the possible solutions, primarily that brands carry the influence to solve the issues platforms are fueling in terms of content and data, there is the chance to shift the power to a new variety of stories that are meaningful, trustworthy and conducive to a healthier society.

Good AI

Artificial intelligence is often employed for the purposes of optimizing for immediate engagement and driving advertising margin. The best margins for advertising are on the lowest cost content – typically favoring content that is fake. However, this is not to say that AI is dangerous or inherently ‘bad.’

We, as marketers, can use emerging technologies without ceding control to the machines. More specifically, we have the ability to fundamentally shift the role AI plays from that of an “enabler,” incentivizing us with any means to stay engaged for a few seconds longer (regardless if it’s “true” or “good” for us), to that of a “trainer” that helps us practice good behavior online.

Learn more about the Attention Revolution as part of our 2020 global theme: HUMAN.X and help us establish a human-first, experience-driven approach to digital marketing. Read the official announcement and secure your early-bird discount today to save 40% on your full-conference pass.

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