What Is Attention Economics?

Attention economics considers awareness, recognition, and action thereof to be integral to economic decision making.

Attention economics considers awareness, recognition, and action thereupon to be integral to economic decision making. The concept of Attention Economics was first put forward by Hebert A. Simon and built upon by business strategists such as Michael Goldhaber. Hebert Simon articulated the law of information that the rapid growth of information causes scarcity of attention. It is on this premise that attention economics was developed.


Attention economics is a management approach which views an individual’s attention as a scarce commodity, and one which must be acquired to achieve effective marketing. Attention economics is of particular importance in the current age of the internet. Consumers in the modern age have access to overwhelming amounts of information, and this has caused them to become skimmers rather than readers. The internet is full of meaningless content as much as it is filled with relevant information. Numerous advertisements are plastered all over the web, all in a bid to grab the attention of the reader. Advertisers have subsequently resorted to catchy headlines to draw in customers to their sites.

Attention Economics Concepts

One of the principles central to attention economics is relevancy. Customers will hardly be interested in an advertisement that is not in line with their needs. The more a consumer sees relevant information, the longer he/she will give attention and create higher opportunities for sales. Attention Economics creates a platform where users assent to receive services in exchange for their attention. This concept is one search engines have grasped very well. Search engines typically show consumers advertisements in an exchange for giving them the relevant information for what they are searching.

Role of Social Media

Attention has become a form of currency, and people are spending it on social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Access to internet-enabled mobile phones has further fueled the growth of these sites. These sites have dramatically changed the global information landscape. News for example, which were formerly a preserve of TV Channels find their way on social media sites before they are aired on TV. The Social media sites are continually dwarfing the relevance of traditional media institutions. Considering that money follows attention, advertisers have shifted their focus from traditional media entities to the internet. While using Facebook, for example, numerous advertisements for commodities such as clothes run on the margins in an attempt to grab the user’s attention.

Applications of Attention Economics

Attention Economics has impacted various aspects of business. Some of these applications include those listed below.

Advertising- the field of advertising is arguably the most impacted by attention economics. Modern buyers are exposed to large volumes of information than they know what to do with the information. The cost of advertising has subsequently fallen, due to numerous online platforms. This situation means that most businesses can now afford to advertise and contribute to the already overflowing information. Attention economics applied to advertising requires that advertisements be relevant. Case scenario, if a consumer does not find what he/she is looking for in a site, the chances are that they will go looking to another site which is also capable of giving them the information they require. Content created must, therefore, be highly user-relevant.

E-mail spam-spammers send a single message to many recipients, in the hope that a significant percentage of them will translate into customers. The cost of sending spams is insignificant, and spam messages work on the premise of attracting consumer attention.

Management-attention has become a managerial approach wherein the focus is shifting from supply-based to demand-based management practices. If businesses are to survive, they are to do so based on the attention they manage to garner from potential consumers. Attention has become a form of wealth or asset for businesses.

More in Economics