I think part of the issue behind why this idea has not gotten broader exposure is that getting to the core of answering the question “what is attention?” requires navigating deep thickets of prose and over-intellectualizing.
Example, from Attentiontrust.org: A Declaration of Gestural Independence:
“Definition of attention: Attention is the substance of focus. It registers your interests by indicating choice for certain things and choice against other things…the establishment of value in the attention economy is a dual register of what one pays attention to and what one chooses to ignore.”
My question: Why does this fundamental concept need to be spun up with layers of confusion and thick prose? Why not just call it what it is? How about this:
“Attention is another way of saying ‘time.'”
Attention is time, as in “where I choose to spend my time.” This is why this concept (whether we call it “attention” or “time” or what have you) is fundamental. It’s also why it applies, fundamentally, to marketing.
Interruption marketing doesn’t work anymore. (Although that’s not to stop big companies from throwing more money at it.) In a world where the customer has increasing ability to choose where to spend her limited hours in the day, an organization interested in becoming noticed by new prospective customers needs to give those customers a reason to spend their time with them. (The customer will spend money with them later. But only after they’ve spent the more precious thing, time.)
If this is true, how do you earn the time of your prospective customer? It may mean that “marketing” now needs to do things that:
- Provide real value (in the form of information or insight)
- Provide content that is creative and/or entertaining
- Provide a venue and the opportunity for prospective customers to connect with others who have similar views or needs
This is still a nascent thought, and I’d love to bat this around. What do you think?