Our Brain on Ads — — A Sneak Peak Into The Multi-Billion Dollar Attention Market

Our Brain on Ads — — A Sneak Peak Into The Multi-Billion Dollar Attention Market


9 min read

As you are reading this, you are mostly surrounded by different ads, ads from your mobile phone, laptop, billboards, flyers, etc, a study conducted by CBS news gathered that we see close to 4000 ads every day, so what propels your buying decisions every time you actually pay for a product?.

In a world where every brand is trying to convince you to buy their own product instead of their competitors, what really influences your decision in buying anything at all, how were these brands able to convince you to go for their product? was it the price or the quality of their product or has the brand made an impression on you that made you think they produce the best product? What really influences your buying decisions?

To answer these questions, you have to know that before any company offers to sell you any product, they had to create a very first product of their own, a secret and phenomenal product, you cannot buy it in a store and you can’t see it, but you are in the process of supplying it every second of every day, this new product is YOUR ATTENTION.

In this article, we are going to take a very close look into how most of the world’s economy is driven solely on your attention, how the attention business model came about and how we can also benefit from this booming market by selling our attention at the right price.

The Attention Business Model

Tim Wu, the author of the book The Attention Merchant talked about how the attention business model most companies use today came about;

In early 1800, the newspaper business in New York city was bleak, the New York Times wasn’t around yet but there were a handful of other newspapers, they typically charge 6cents for a copy of their newspaper which was a lot of money in those days. Benjamin Dale was working with a Newspaper company at the time and he thought that the business model needed a reboot, 6cents was way too much for the common American to spend on newspaper on a daily basis, he has an idea and he decided to start his own newspaper business and he named it The Sun,.

He sells a copy of his newspaper for 1cent, compared to the 6cents that other newspapers were being sold, everyone thought he was crazy and that he is going to be running his business in debt, but Benjamin Dale knew something they didn’t, he has a strategy, he has a plan, and this was his plan.

On August 26, 1885, The Sun published a front-page article titled “Astronomical Discoveries”, readers learned that an astronomer in South Africa had built a telescope that will allow you see minute objects in the surface of the moon. according to what is published in the newspaper, by looking into the telescope, you will see objects closely as it is in the moon.

Few Weeks after the first headline was released, the Sun released another article to update their readers about what they had found from using the telescope, they wrote that the moon contains canyons, oceans, forest, and that there is also a new form of life, a creature they named Vespertilio-homo, they described it as a creature that looked like a “human being with bat wings”, obviously, the paper was spreading fake news, which was later called The Great Moon Hoax but that’s only obvious to us now in the 21st century because we know better now.

The amazing thing about this story is that this article increased the sales of The Sun’s newspaper geometrically thereby triggering a wide readership of the newspaper as everybody was super curious as to what the next finding will be, coupled with the fact that it was relatively cheap, mass of people subscribed to The Sun’s newspaper every day to learn about the human with bat wings on the moon, but mostly because they were fascinated by what they read in the paper, and that was Benjamin Dale’s cue, he was able to grab the attention of more than half of the people, Now Dale has the readership he wanted, how is he going to make money of this?

Quite simple, he started selling the attention of the people he has to companies or anybody that wants it, therefore, creating the first paper to run entirely on harvesting of human attention, he had somewhat revolutionized the concept of advertising today by simply selling spaces in his newspapers for companies to advertise their products on to increase their sales, he started something revolutionary.

This model is alive and well today, this model is what most organizations and corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest built their empire on. they find various ways to grab our attention by releasing new cool features, package it as a product for users to use and engage with, once they are able to grab the attention of users, they then sell their attention to advertisers. they first created a product to solve a particular need in the society and they even did the society one better by giving out this solution for free, or at least so we thought, but its really not free, what we didn’t realize often times is that we are trading our attention for the price of that product we could have paid for, and the company in return sell our attention to other people that are interested in gaining our attention to sell something else to us. and that is why we see some websites or apps that will bombard us with ads and will give us an option of not seeing any of these ads if we are willing to pay for it.

This model is so powerful that once you have peoples attention you can get them to buy things they didn’t even know they needed

This strategy is part of a long legacy of companies trying to capture and monetize your attention. this model is so powerful that once you have people’s attention you can get them to buy things they didn’t even know they needed, and strengthen this model, companies that run as P.A.A.S started making their services free because of the tendency of human nature to be drawn to anything that is free, basically because the more the attention they are able to grab the more billions they make.

Sustaining the business model, Targeted Advertising to the rescue

Now, there is this thing with attention, it is very hard to maintain because human attention changes faster as the speed of light, the moment we see something else we focus on it till we see something else that distracts us, as it is companies realizes that we are already tuning out of the attention we are supplying them, mainly because we think that the attention we are supplying them is getting way too much and its doing more harm than good to us, its affecting us in so many ways we couldn’t have imagined before, and its not just that, there are so many ads that are being pushed into people’s face that it has started to irritate and annoy everyone, people now start to skip these ads or ignore them, most people even install ad-blockers just to get rid of these ads, some people even now prefer to pay for the product they are using rather than to serve a bunch of ads they are not interested in. In order to retain people’s attention, Attention Merchant needs to keep people engaged by every means possible or else they start losing people’s attention and once they loose people attention, the value of their product depreciates, the attention merchants decided to top things up a notch, by introducing “Targeted Advertisement”, what this simply means is, since people are no longer interested in seeing any ad-related content, they decided to start serving us with ads that are specific to us, ads that will most likely grab our attention, as we cannot ignore simply because it really meets our needs.

In order to solve these problems and make ads more appealing to users and grab their attention, companies started using our history and data to serve us ads that we most likely will be more interested in. take for example, a company like Terragon Group created a solution to solve this problem for attention merchants and they called it Adrenaline, what adrenaline simple does is it takes advantage of the data they have to create something they called an audience platform, this allows companies to target their market audience directly instead of just targeting people that might not be interested in the product, imagine you see an ad about baby diaper meanwhile none of your interest align in that direction at the moment, but a product like Adrenaline makes the companies selling diapers and wants to advertise their product to users segment their audience for women between the age of 20 and above because these people are mothers or will be potential mothers, that way they get to retain people’s attention because people will now be more inclined to pay attention to these ads and will also be more inclined to buy because it meets their needs

Our strategy is much less [about] increasing the volume of ads and much more about increasing the quality of the content and the quality of the targeting to get the right content to the right people, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Targeting consumers with relevant ads — rather than bombarding them with a large volume of ad content — has become standard practice for online advertisers, particularly on social media. Advertising platforms like Adrenaline, and other social networks such as Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ focus on providing an advertising experience for users that don’t feel aggressive or impersonal.

Selling Your Attention — — Basic Attention Token (BAT)

In other to answer the kind of question Senator Schatz asked Mark Zuckerberg when Mark was testifying before the Senate on data privacy, Senator Schatz said “If I own my own data, I should be able to get my own cut from the revenue Facebook is generating from selling my data”, well, it might sound like a laughable question two years ago before BAT came into play, this question exactly is what BAT answers.

Basic Attention Token is a blockchain solution that radically improves the efficiency of digital advertising by creating a new token that can be exchanged between publishers, advertisers, and users. The token can be used to obtain a variety of advertising and attention-based services on the Brave platform. The utility of the token is based on user attention, which simply means a person’s focused mental engagement.BAT works by getting contents from publishers, now assuming this publishers are sending targeted contents not just any content, contents that you will be interested in, content that will always get your attention, but I can’t speak for the publisher’s, so once BAT then measures your attention based on content and ads views and it is measured on duration and pixel viewed in proportion to the content size, now when a user decides to view ads, the views will be tracked anonymously on-device and both the users and the publishers will be rewarded with the correspondent amount of BAT based on user attention. If you want to get into the inner-workings you can read their white paper

Basic Attention Token

Now that we know about the attention business model and how it came about, let's watch out for the second part of this article where I will be talking about how you can benefit from this attention business model and take advantage of the attention market to your own gain. if you enjoyed this article, there is more where that came from at https:devops.ng

Originally published at linkedin.com.