Product & Startup Builder

Major media outlets are starting to understand the zero sum game of Attention

Added on by Chris Saad.
Scott Karp has written a great piece summarizing what we here at Touchstone has been alluding to for quite some time.

Individuals can now make a good living as content creators, without ever creating or becoming part of a scale content business. What’s more disruptive, however, is that in the market for original content, the attention economy is draining dollars out of the cash economy. There remains a zero sum game for consumer attention, so for every minute a consumer spends with content created by an entity whose compensation is in form of attention, there’s a minute not being spend on content created by a for-profit entity.

In contrast, the content aggregation and distribution side of the divided media industry has all the advantages of scale, with the technology-enabled platform (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, search) serving as the organizing principle for the new scalable media businesses. Content creation is asymptotically approaching commodity status, while platforms that can effectively aggregate content and allocate scarce consumer attention can unlock immense value in the new media marketplace.


This does not mean, however, that commercial content creators will lose out while Aggregators destroy their businesses. It means that content creators need to understand and respect and value the role of aggregators to help them find an audience. Further, they need to understand how Personalized Aggregation (based on Attention) changes the publisher/audience dynamic.

First, as we all know, there is no more audience, only participants. But more importantly for this discussion - the participants have different expectations. They want highly tailored content experiences that meet their tastes exactly. And they have no shortage of places to find that conent - in fact too many sources. We sometimes call this hyper choice or information overload.

This means that publishers need to:
  1. Start thinking niche.
  2. Start finding ways to cut through the noise to reach niche audiences.
This is where Attention comes in. By measuring one's Attention you can learn what they are interested in. By learning what they are interested in you can learn what content they want to see more of. From there, it's a hop, skip and a jump to connecting content creators with participants.

It also means that Aggregators will have a growing responsibility to content creators. A responsibility to report statistics, create transparency in their platforms and find some way to help the eco-system of Content Creators become successful.

Read Scott's full post for some more great insights.